7.2/10
931
18 user 19 critic

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:

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) (as Mel Clay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Trouble Man (1972)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Things begin to unravel when a supercool black fixer is hired to straighten out some crooks.

Director: Ivan Dixon
Stars: Robert Hooks, Paul Winfield, Ralph Waite
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
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
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
Truck Turner (1974)
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Blaxploitation film about a former professional football player who becomes a bounty hunter in Los Angeles.

Director: Jonathan Kaplan
Stars: Isaac Hayes, Yaphet Kotto, Alan Weeks
Action | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson are two black cops with a reputation for breaking the odd head. Both are annoyed at the success of the Reverend Deke O'Mailey who is selling trips ... See full summary »

Director: Ossie Davis
Stars: Godfrey Cambridge, Raymond St. Jacques, Calvin Lockhart
Black Caesar (1973)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Tommy Gibbs is a tough kid, raised in the ghetto, who aspires to be a kingpin criminal. As a young boy, his leg is broken by a bad cop on the take, during a payoff gone bad. Nursing his ... See full summary »

Director: Larry Cohen
Stars: Fred Williamson, Gloria Hendry, Art Lund
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Two New York City cops go after amateur crooks who are trying to rip off the Mafia and start a gang war.

Director: Barry Shear
Stars: Anthony Quinn, Yaphet Kotto, Anthony Franciosa
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Infiltrating Hollywood: The Rise and Fall of the Spook Who Sat by the Door is an independent documentary on the controversial and FBI repressed 1973 black film The Spook Who Sat By the Door... See full summary »

Directors: Christine Acham, Clifford Ward
Stars: Sam Greenlee, Berlie Dixon, Todd Boyd
Trick Baby (1972)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Two Phildelphia con men try to evade gangsters they have conned and cops who are trying to put them in jail.

Director: Larry Yust
Stars: Kiel Martin, Mel Stewart, Dallas Edward Hayes
Detroit 9000 (1973)
Crime | Drama | Action
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

After a fundraiser for a black politician is robbed, Detroit police put two detectives, one white and one black, on the case, who try to work together under boiling political pressure.

Director: Arthur Marks
Stars: Alex Rocco, Hari Rhodes, Vonetta McGee
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A gangster in Harlem must rescue his ex-wife, who has been kidnapped by the Mafia.

Director: Larry Cohen
Stars: Fred Williamson, Julius Harris, Gloria Hendry
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Lawrence Cook ... Dan Freeman
Janet League ... Joy
... Dahomey Queen
... Dawson
Paul Butler ... Do-Daddy Dean
... Stud Davis
David Lemieux ... Pretty Willie
... General
Jack Aaron ... Carstairs
... Senator Hennington
... Mrs. Hennington
Beverly Gill ... Willa
Bob Hill ... Calhoun
Martin Golar ... Perkins
Jeff Hamilton ... Policeman
Edit

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:

He turned the American dream... into a nightmare! See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | Crime

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

23 December 1981 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Agentti iski takaisin  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Included in the 2012 list of motion pictures for the United States Library of Congress Nationl Film Registry. See more »

Quotes

[after being told he and the other light-skinned gang members are to rob a bank]
Pretty Willie: All the yellow nigga's, right?
[His anger coming to a slow boil]
Pretty Willie: Look, man, I am TIRED of that! I am not passing! I am BLACK! Do you hear me, man? Do you understand? I am BLACK! I am a NIGGA', you understand me? I was BORN Black, I -LIVE- Black, and I'm gonna die, prob'ly -BECAUSE- I'm Black, because some Cracker that -KNOWS- I'm Black, better than -YOU-, Nigga', is prob'ly gonna put a BULLET in the back of my head!
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Too powerful to be dismissed
17 October 2000 | by See all my reviews

Dan Freeman (played by Lawrence Cook) is a token black CIA operative. Trained in all sorts of espionage, he is relegated to working in the copying department as a "showcase" employee of integration. As the title suggests, he's placed by the door of the office so he's the first person everyone sees. Incensed by his mistreatment (and the racial stereotyping of his superiors), he resigns to his native Chicago as a social services worker.

Secretly, he is training a street gang into a guerrilla army to be the vanguard in a race war, using all of his training by "the man" against "the man".

The details are impressive. Freeman explains how to establish a hierarchy in an underground movement, how to recruit new members, living on the street, and forming new cells. He also details how racial stereotypes can be used to one's advantage, citing how no one ever notices a smiling black man in an office carrying a mop.

The film is a faithful adaptation of Sam Greenlee's controversial novel of the same title, and a haunting look at what MIGHT have (and maybe damned near) happened in the USA during that turbulent period of history. The film was quickly followed by a long line of "blaxploitation" films, often made with little regard for content and style. But "Spook", shot on a small budget, has a powerful message: Never underestimate anyone! Not even "the spook who sat by the door"!

As a motion picture, it does have technical weaknesses, but the drama is well-played, the plot is very tight and the characters are believable. The language, however, is very harsh. A white man (like myself) may find the diatribes against "whitey" shocking, but this film was made during a time of great racial strife, and it echos those times.

Made in 1973, it still packs a punch, and is worth tracking down and buying (Do a web-search! That's how I got my copy!).

A ground-breaking film! (Does anyone but me catch the irony of the main character's name? "Free Man"?)


11 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 18 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed