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Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971)

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1:02 | 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
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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 Rochelle Niva Rochelle
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
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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:

You bled my Momma--You bled my Poppa--But you won't bleed me. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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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

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Box Office

Budget:

$500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$15,180,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Yeah See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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

Starring The Black Community See more »

Alternate Versions

The Region 2 DVD release from BFI Video has the opening sex sequences removed. A notice at the beginning of the DVD explains that the scenes were censored "in order to comply with UK law (the Protection of Children Act 1978)," which is ironic because the sex scene with Mario Van Peebles was faked, as stated in the film Baadasssss! (aka "Baadasssss!"). See more »

Connections

Featured in Baadasssss! (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Sweetback Losing His Cherry
Written by Melvin Van Peebles
Performed by Melvin Van Peebles featuring Earth Wind & Fire
See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of the worst films ever made!
22 July 2006 | by theskylabadventureSee all my reviews

This is quite possibly the worst film ever made! The story behind the production and the intentions of Peebles may be inspiring, but the movie sure ain't. Sure, the backbone of it was a seriously slap in the face for the oppressive end of the white establishment which still resonates today - and rightly so. But the significant message this movie was conceived to communicate is utterly lost in an unbearably sloppy 90 minute montage of violence, running and f**king. As if that weren't poor taste enough, we even get to watch a guy taking a dump wearing only a towel - lovely.

I have no moral objection to the film, but cannot get past the fact that it is utterly incoherent from start to finish. The plot is almost non-existent, and only about a third of the screen time has anything to do with the 'story' anyway. There are random scenes that have no apparent meaning or significance whatsoever.

It looks dreadful, as if the cameraman was on speed and crack at the same time. Beyond this, the night sequences (which make up a large percentage of the film) are so dark that you literally cannot see a thing. Alas, that may be just as well, as it goes some small way to detracting from the mind-blowingly poor 'acting'. Sweetback himself just pouts and minces about, and he's the best 'character' in there. The sound is awful, often with two songs (the same two songs on a continuous loop) literally playing on top of each other.

I really wanted to like this movie, and I still acknowledge it as a milestone in American culture and social history. As a side note, it was not the first blaxploitation film as is popularly believed - Cotton Comes to Harlem was a year earlier. That said, technically Sweetback isn't a blaxploitation film at all as it was financed and produced entirely by a black man. Moot point really, but worth mentioning.

In case my point has been lost, let me recapitulate. Sweet Sweetback has to be one of the very worst films I have ever seen in my life. As a piece of cinema, there is absolutely nothing redeeming about it whatsoever.

Approach this as a documentation of the shift in (black) American social consciousness as it related to popular culture of the late '60s and early '70s. Otherwise avoid it altogether, you'll thank me later.


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