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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 »
Reviews
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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An African American is hired by the CIA in the late 1960s to train for a high-level mission.

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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 ... 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

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

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User Reviews

Praise for film
20 August 2003 | by nawtambuSee all my reviews

The Spook Who Sat by the Door is a cult classic and named one of the most influential black films of the 70s (by Torriano Berry and Venise Berry in their book The 50 most influential black films). This film holds this title with good reason. The film begins with a senator facing the prospect of losing an election without the pivotal black vote. To win favor he decided to charge the CIA with racism since they have no black agents. The CIA agrees, although those in charge of the training do all that is possible to kick all of the recruits out. Only one survives, Dan Freeman. Freeman finds himself the token black, he is often called to show visitors what progress the CIA is making in race relations, before continuing his menial tasks of copying papers and giving tours. Though he plays his role, one gets the impression he is planning something big. After a few years of service with the CIA he returns home to Chicago and in his capacity as a social worker he organizes local gangs using his knowledge and training from the CIA. Without spoiling the rest of the film there is the classic struggle about how to approach change through the system or to over throw? This is represented by Freeman and a former friend who is now police chief in Chicago. Included is some of the socio-political issues that made the 60s and 70s what it was, making this film one that stands out in a decade of films high on action and low on plot. Taking budget issues into consideration and what director Ivan Dixon had to do to get the film made, it is well worth watching (even again).


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