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The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973)

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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 619 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 17 critic

A black man plays Uncle Tom in order to gain access to CIA training, then uses that knowledge to plot a new American Revolution.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973)

The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973) on IMDb 7.3/10

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lawrence Cook ...
Dan Freeman
Janet League ...
Dahomey Queen
Paul Butler ...
Do-Daddy Dean
Don Blakely ...
Stud Davis
David Lemieux ...
Pretty Willie
Byron Morrow ...
Jack Aaron ...
Senator Hennington
Elaine Aiken ...
Mrs. Hennington
Beverly Gill ...
Bob Hill ...
Martin Golar ...
Jeff Hamilton ...


In order to improve his standing with Black voters, a White Senator starts a campaign for the CIA to recruit Black agents. However, all are graded on a curve and doomed to fail, save for a soft-spoken veteran named Dan Freeman. After grueling training in guerrilla warfare, clandestine operations and unarmed combat, he is assigned a meager job as the CIA's token Black employee. After five years of racist and stereotyped treatment by his superiors, he quietly resigns to return to his native Chicago to work for a social services day. By night, he trains a street gang to be the vanguard in an upcoming race war, using all that the CIA has taught him... Written by Baroque

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The controversial best selling novel now becomes a shocking screen reality. See more »


Action | Drama | Crime


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

23 December 1981 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Spook Who Sat by the Door  »

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Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


According to Sam Greenlee, the outdoor scenes filmed in Chicago were shot without permits. See more »


National Guard Soldier: [after being shot] Why me?
Stud Davis: Cause it's WAR, Honky!
See more »


Spoofed in Black Dynamite (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

Greatest guerrilla movie ever made
26 March 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is one of the undiscovered treasures of cinema people, if you haven't seen it you need to. They never paid for one permit and they did this movie for about $90,000USD, but they don't skip a beat. Same editor as Schindler's List; if you watch the movie you can tell why Spielberg uses this guy, he is a master.

Even if you don't agree with the films message you have to agree that this is one of thee finest made independent films in existence, and considering the subject matter it is a surprise this film was ever shot, because the book had a pretty hard time getting published too.

I think this film is everything Melvin Van Peebles wanted SweetBack to be.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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