5.5/10
4,064
51 user 45 critic

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971)

Trailer
1:29 | Trailer
After saving a Black Panther from some racist cops, a black male prostitute goes on the run from "the man" with the help of the ghetto community and some disillusioned Hells Angels.

Director:

Melvin Van Peebles
Reviews

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Super Fly (1972)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

The daily routine of cocaine dealer Priest who wants to score one more super deal and retire.

Director: Gordon Parks Jr.
Stars: Ron O'Neal, Carl Lee, Sheila Frazier
Baadasssss! (2003)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Mario Van Peebles' half-documentary/half-homage to his father Melvin Van Peebles' movie Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971).

Director: Mario Van Peebles
Stars: Mario Van Peebles, Nia Long, Joy Bryant
Shaft (1971)
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Cool black private eye John Shaft is hired by a crime lord to find and retrieve his kidnapped daughter.

Director: Gordon Parks
Stars: Richard Roundtree, Moses Gunn, Charles Cioffi
The Mack (1973)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Goldie returns from five years at the state pen and winds up King of the pimping game. Trouble comes in the form of two corrupt white cops and a crime lord who wants him to return to the ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Campus
Stars: Max Julien, Don Gordon, Richard Pryor
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.8/10 X  

An ex-con, on parole and trying to straighten his life out, decides to resume his boxing career when one of his prison enemies escapes and kills his girlfriend.

Director: Jamaa Fanaka
Stars: Leon Isaac Kennedy, Glynn Turman, Ernie Hudson
Penitentiary (1979)
Crime | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

A hitchhiker named Martel Gordone gets in a fight with two bikers over a prostitute, and one of the bikers is killed. Gordone is arrested and sent to prison, where he joins the prison's ... See full summary »

Director: Jamaa Fanaka
Stars: Leon Isaac Kennedy, Wilbur 'Hi-Fi' White, Thomas M. Pollard
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

An extremely bigoted white man finds out the hard (and somewhat humorous) way what it's like being a black man, firsthand!

Director: Melvin Van Peebles
Stars: Godfrey Cambridge, Estelle Parsons, Howard Caine
Crime | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Wishing to become a successful Reggae singer, a young Jamaican man finds himself tied to corrupt record producers and drug pushers.

Director: Perry Henzell
Stars: Jimmy Cliff, Janet Bartley, Carl Bradshaw
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A social worker tries to get a pimp to change his ways.

Director: Gilbert Moses
Stars: Roscoe Orman, Diana Sands, Thalmus Rasulala
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

During the 1970s, U.S. Special Agent Cleopatra Jones proves to be an invaluable asset to the local police forces in the war on drugs.

Director: Jack Starrett
Stars: Tamara Dobson, Bernie Casey, Brenda Sykes
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Simon Chuckster ... Beetle
Melvin Van Peebles ... Sweetback
Hubert Scales Hubert Scales ... Mu-Mu
John Dullaghan ... Commissioner
Wesley Gale Wesley Gale ... (as West Gale)
Niva Ruschell Niva Ruschell
Rhetta Hughes Rhetta Hughes ... Old Girl Friend
Nick Ferrari Nick Ferrari
Ed Rue Ed Rue
John Amos ... Biker (as Johnny Amos)
Lavelle Roby
Ted Hayden Ted Hayden
Mario Van Peebles ... Young Sweetback / Kid (as Mario Peebles)
Sonja Dunson Sonja Dunson
Michael Augustus Michael Augustus
Edit

Storyline

Melvin Van Peebles wrote, directed, produced, edited, composed and starred in this powerful and inflammatory attack on White America. After the body of a black man is discovered, Sweetback helps two white 'acquaintances' in the police force to look good by agreeing to go with them to the station as a suspect. But he is forced to go on the run after brutally attacking the two policemen when they arrest and beat up a young black man. Written by David Claydon <dc6212@bristol.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Sweet Sweetback will never die a natural death. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 March 1973 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Sweet Sweetback See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$15,180,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Yeah See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Melvin Van Peebles contracted gonorrhea from one of the actresses during filming of one of the sex scenes in the movie. He applied for compensation from the Directors Guild because he "got hurt on the job" and used the money to buy more film. See more »

Goofs

The fire truck that appeared at the end of the car explosion was not originally supposed to appear. Due to a permit still not filed, the fire department was unaware and proceeded to appear unannounced. See more »

Quotes

Beetle: Like you gonna have to kinda lay out, stretch out a little while, be real cool. Kinda lay dead. Ol' Beetle'll let you know what's happenin', what's goin' down. You don't have to worry about nothin'. If you need anything, anything at all, brother, just keep the faith in Beetle, ol' Beetle goin' to bring you through, cause this is just a skirmish. You know how the game goes, baby. But you keep the faith in me and you my man. You my favorite man. Can you dig it, baby? Together, you know, maintain....
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the movie a "warning" for the white community appears: "Watch out - a baad assss nigger is coming to collect some dues." See more »

Alternate Versions

The 1998 UK video version was passed fully uncut by the BBFC after receiving a written assurance from Melvin Van Peebles that 18 year old Hubert Scales was playing the role of young Sweetback during the opening sex scene. When the film was re-released on DVD in 2005 it had been revealed to the BBFC that the information was false, and that the role had actually been played by then-14 year old Mario Van Peebles. Owing to the Protection of Children Act 1978 the scene had to be cut and 1 minute 9 secs were removed by the distributors, using black imaging to replace the offensive footage. However the edit was insufficient and a further 5 secs of cuts were requested by the BBFC. See more »

Connections

Featured in New Jack City (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

Sweetback's Theme
Written by Melvin Van Peebles
Performed by Melvin Van Peebles featuring Earth Wind & Fire
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

As long as you don't study it for its technique...
1 May 2003 | by morakanabadSee all my reviews

This is a film that has several things going for it, none of them technical. The idea of shooting a movie with a largely black cast on dark streets at night without any sort of extra lighting is... well, a bad one, and coupled with its mic-in-the-cameraman's-back- pocket sound mix, an awful lot of the first half of the movie is just shy of being incomprehensible. Add in an editing job that suggests somebody was busy talking on the phone during the cutting of several key scenes, and you could have a real patience- tester of a film on your hands.

Thankfully, the mood of the film is positive enough that its deliriously illogical plot actually works in its favour. Greasy kid Mario van Peebles (minus the "van" here) is transformed into strapping man Melvin van Peebles in a meaningful encounter with a hooker, and you can buy it. On-the-lam hero Sweetback is challenged to a duel by bikers, and nobody so much as blinks when he suggests that it should be a duel of sexual prowess... hell, they don't even seem to care that he doesn't need to move in order to drive his women wild. He's even brought back from the dead by the chorused voices of The Black Community, and it all sort of makes sense, kind of.

In fact, it isn't until the very last shot of the movie, when you realize that 90 minutes and change have built up to... well, nothing much, really, except maybe a shred of belief in the power of an act of will, and perhaps the promise of a sequel, that you feel like taking the movie to task for its gaping technical flaws again. Even then, it's made so earnestly that I don't really have the heart to slag it for its ineptly-blocked camerawork and dreadful acting. I've seen much worse from filmmakers who weren't trying to change the world by giving a damn, so instead I'll talk it up by calling it the spiritual ancestor of the basketball-teleportation ending to He Got Game, and pretty much everything in The Matrix, too. That it was largely the work of one hugely inspired guy makes it all the cooler, so struggling filmmakers, take note! As long as you crib your technique from other places, Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song should be an inspiration to you.


36 of 45 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 51 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Check Out What's Playing on IMDb Freedive

See what movies and TV series you can watch for free today, and visit IMDb Freedive for even more. Select any poster below to play the movie!

Find more things to watch

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed