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The Man (1972)

G  |   |  Drama  |  19 July 1972 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 220 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 4 critic

When the President and Speaker of the House are killed in a building collapse, and the Vice-President declines the office due to age and ill-health, Senate President pro tempore Douglas ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Douglass Dilman
...
Jim Talley
...
Senator Watson
...
Noah Calvin
...
Arthur Eaton
...
Kay Eaton
...
Robert Wheeler
Janet MacLachlan ...
Wanda
...
Wheeler's Lawyer
Simon Scott ...
Hugh Gaynor
...
South African Consul
...
Webson
...
Ma Blore
Edward Faulkner ...
Secret Service Man
Gilbert Green ...
Congressman Hand
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Storyline

When the President and Speaker of the House are killed in a building collapse, and the Vice-President declines the office due to age and ill-health, Senate President pro tempore Douglas Dilman (James Earl Jones) suddenly becomes the first black man to occupy the Oval Office. The events from that day to the next election when he must decide if he will actually run challenge his skills as a politician and leader. Written by Kevin Lantry

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The First Black President of the United States. First They Swore Him In. Then They Swore to Get Him. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

G
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 July 1972 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Presidente Negro  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

James Earl Jones was interviewed about portraying a fictional black U.S. president a few days before Barack Obama was sworn in as President. Jones said that he had misgivings about the film, mostly because they were blindsided when the project (which was planned and budgeted as a TV movie) was released in theaters, and he wished that they'd had more time and resources to make a stronger final film. See more »

Connections

Featured in 15th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

Good intentions, weak results
27 May 2002 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

"The Man" is dominated by a screenplay written by Rod Serling in his oh-so-earnest mode. The movie benefits from Serling's sincere convictions towards racial progress, but the film is undercut by Serling's tin ear for dialogue.

In the opening scene, a White House breakfast is in progress even though the President and the Speaker of the House are visiting a mediaeval cathedral in Europe. Suddenly news arrives that the cathedral has collapsed: the President and the Speaker are dead. White House aides inform Vice President Calvin (a good performance by Lew Ayres) that he's now the chief executive. But Calvin is old and frail, and he refuses the job. I found this contrived: if the Vice President isn't medically fit to replace the President at an instant's notice, then he isn't fit to be Vice President and shouldn't hold the office.

By an obscure but apparently genuine constitutional fluke, the Presidential succession devolves to an obscure senator named Douglass Dilman (James Earl Jones) who happens to be Negro. Yes, a black man is now President!

"The Man" raises some interesting issues. Jones gives an intelligent and dignified performance as the black President who refuses to see his job promotion as proof of racial progress. He knows he wasn't *elected* to the job, and he doesn't believe that America will elect a black President any time soon. (This was 1972.)

William Windom, who usually played sympathetic roles, gives an excellent performance as a bigoted white politician who covets the Presidency. (The posters for this movie depicted Windom speaking a racial epithet.) Charles Lampkin is excellent in a small role as a black Congressman. And, of course, now that a black man is in the Oval Office, there's a plot to assassinate him...

For some reason, comedian Jack Benny gets very large billing for a very brief scene in "The Man". He appears only in the opening teaser sequence: when the opening credits roll with Benny's name on the screen, we've already seen his entire performance and he won't show up again! Playing himself, Jack Benny performs a comedy monologue during the White House breakfast. But Benny's legendary timing is off, and he doesn't bother to conceal that he's reading his jokes off a legal pad. I'm a Jack Benny fan, but he disgraces himself here.

There are some good scenes in "The Man" but there's a lot of sermonising too, and very little action. I recommend this film with reservations, and I'll give it 5 points out of 10. I sincerely believe that the U.S.A. will eventually elect a black President ... but, sad to say, I also believe that the first African-American President will almost certainly be assassinated. I hope I'm wrong.


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Recent Posts
Is this film available on tape/DVD? wsays
prime for a re-make on the silver screen mdole72
Understand The Succession sddavis63
In light of tonight's historic event. This film is worth another look! eugene1001us
We have a BLACK President - Why is this NOT on DVD yet? treshon
JEJ photos in Field of Dreams scene roximunro
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