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The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973)

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

Director:

Ivan Dixon

Writers:

Sam Greenlee (screenplay), Melvin Clay (screenplay) (as Mel Clay) | 1 more credit »
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1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Lawrence Cook Lawrence Cook ... Dan Freeman
Janet League Janet League ... Joy
Paula Kelly ... Dahomey Queen
J.A. Preston ... Dawson
Paul Butler Paul Butler ... Do-Daddy Dean
Don Blakely ... Stud Davis
David Lemieux David Lemieux ... Pretty Willie
Byron Morrow ... General
Jack Aaron Jack Aaron ... Carstairs
Joseph Mascolo ... Senator Hennington
Elaine Aiken ... Mrs. Hennington
Beverly Gill Beverly Gill ... Willa
Bob Hill Bob Hill ... Calhoun
Martin Golar Martin Golar ... Perkins
Jeff Hamilton Jeff Hamilton ... Policeman
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Storyline

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 agency...by 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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Action | Drama | Crime

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 December 1981 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Agentti iski takaisin See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Bokari See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

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

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

Quotes

Dan Freeman: You have just played out the American dream... and now, we're gonna turn it into a nightmare.
See more »

Connections

Spoofs Gone with the Wind (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

 
I'm still waiting for a great film about Black revolutionaries
18 July 2008 | by frankenbenzSee all my reviews

I'll always remember Ivan Dixon as "Kinch" on my favorite after school TV show growing up: Hogan's Heroes. Despite the show making Dixon a household name, he walked away from it (the only cast original cast member to do so), a decision motivated by his lack of creative fulfillment. In Dixon's mind, playing a token black on a silly sit-com was wasted time, an unwelcome departure from his serious work as a stage actor and second fiddle to Sydney Poitier in films like Porgy and Bess and A Raisin in the Sun. In addition to Dixon's creative integrity he also had ambition, a trait white Hollywood afforded very few blacks.

With Gordon Park's blaxploitation masterpiece Shaft tearing up the box-office, Dixon seized the opportunity to direct by helming Trouble Man, itself a prototypical blaxploitation pic. A year later Dixon used his momentum to get back behind the lens to direct Sam Greenlee's underground hit novel The Spook Who Sat by the Door. With Spook, Dixon was able to break the chains shackling Blacks within Hollywood by bringing to the silver screen the politically taboo story of a Black revolutionary declaring war on White society. Lawrence Cook is perfectly cast as the cunning Dan Freeman who infiltrates the White power structure by gaining entrance to the CIA before quitting to form a inner-city Chicago leftist group of revolutionaries. If art imitates life, then you have to consider what it took for a Black director to not only get a film like TSWSBTD financed, but to get White Hollywood to distribute it. While the film itself is sloppily and artlessly made, it remains important because of both its content and the fact that a film with such an anti-social message would even see the light of day during the political climate of the conservative Nixon administration. If he wasn't already on it, it's a safe bet Dixon was on Nixon's black list after Spook was released.

Dixon's career as a feature film director practically stalled after Spook, but he went on to direct some of the best TV in the 70's and 80's, most notably on The Rockford Files and Magnum, P.I.. One could speculate his opportunities to continue directing controversial feature films was curtailed by the forces that be --which would make for an interesting theory-- but after seeing Spook it is safe to say Dixon's talents were simply better suited for the small screen. Nevertheless, The Spook Who Sat by the Door is required viewing for every student of African-American Cinema.

http://eattheblinds.blogspot.com/


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