There are a number of things wrong with ''To Sleep With Anger,'' but there are a number of good things about it, enough to encourage us to overlook the bad.
The direction is unsteady, and the script is not that precise, but the acting is admirable, and it is most refreshing to see a film in which black people are simply people, living rather ordinary lives in a rather ordinary part of town. It is doubly refreshing to see that a film about blacks can steer far away from movie stereotypes.
And no one overacts. Danny Glover stars. He is Harry, a drifter and a user, a man who represents evil. He is insidious. He visits old friends in Los Angeles, asks if he can stay a while and promises that he will remain only as long as the family wants him around.
As expected, he stays around too long. Before he is asked to leave, his host, Gideon, becomes ill, and Gideon's two sons begin fighting with each other. Harry has also taken to ordering the two brothers around. The family, in short, begins to disintegrate, something Harry seems to want.
''To Sleep With Anger,'' written and directed by Charles Burnett and filmed in Los Angeles, is a nice film about nice people who eventually waken to the fact that they have invited a snake into their home.
The movie travels slowly, and the resolution is not all that satisfying, but again, these are failings that may be overlooked.
''To Sleep With Anger'' opens here today. Glover is almost snake-like in behavior, Paul Butler is Gideon, the friend who invites Harry into his home, and Mary Alice is the dignified wife of Gideon, a woman who is appalled when a friend proposes to her, assuming her husband is about to die.
''To Sleep With Anger'' may remind you a little of ''Night Must Fall'' and a few more plays in which peaceful households are threatened by seemingly well-meaning visitors.
''To Sleep With Anger'' ** A guest threatens to destroy the family with whom he is staying.
CAST: Danny Glover, Paul Butler, Mary Alice, Cory Curtis, Carl Lumbly, Vonetta McGee.
DIRECTOR: Charles Burnett
RATING: PG (violence)
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes