51 user 51 critic

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971)

1:30 | 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.


Melvin Van Peebles





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


Sweet Sweetback is a black orphan who, having grown up in a brothel, now works there as part of a sex show. When the police need a patsy for a murder in the black community, His employer gives him up to two white cops, whom he ends up killing. Suddenly the target of a massive manhunt, he decides to flee to Mexico. As he makes his way there, he is captured by, and escapes from, both the cops and a chapter of the Hell's Angels. Written by David Claydon <dc6212@bristol.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Rated X by an all white jury See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »


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 »


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

Opening Credits Dedication: "Dedicated to all the Brothers and Sisters who had enough of the Man" 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 »


Referenced in Everybody Hates Chris: Everybody Hates a Liar (2006) See more »


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

User Reviews

A well-made, brilliant film
18 June 2000 | by TeenieSee all my reviews

I saw this film on opening night in Philadelphia, Pa. The audience consisted of almost entirely young, Black men (mostly) and women who were obviously active in the civil rights movement,judging by the reactions of the men in the audience when Sweetback gave "the man" his definition of justice - beating the living crap out of them. His methods were quite original - especially with the pool cue. His sexual prowness was the main hit of the film for the ladies in the audience (I admit). The scene that really had me rooting for Sweetback was when he "popped" the white biker chick (in a most original manner) and she practically killed her biker boyfriend trying to join up with Sweetback in his quest. He merely cast her off like a used oilrag, which she was. Hilarious. There was a lot of anger among Black moviegoers at that time, which is why a lot of the blaxploitation films were successful. Our voices were heard loud and clear, especially in films, where our heroes were the victors against racist society and even more racist law enforcement, no matter how grisly, gruesome or violent the methods for dealing with them were. I had the pleasure of meeting Melvin Van Peebles at a screening and lecture of his work shortly after this film was made. His brilliance and genius were even more obvious as this man reflected on his determination to film, release and distribute this motion picture even though "white" America did everything they could to ban it, including slapping it with an "X" rating. I never understood the need for the "X" rating, as many of American-International's horror films were much more violent and graphic than this film (the "X" rating was not because of the sex)yet they were never banned or given that dreaded rating. I highly recommend this film to any student of filmmaking to view it not so much for the subject matter but to see the absolute genius in Mr. Van Peebles' work. Little money had he, but a lot of guts, brains and a wonderful and creative imagination made this film the success that it was.

5 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 51 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

22 March 1973 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Sweet Sweetback See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA


Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Yeah See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed