18 user 28 critic

Wattstax (1973)

Documentary covering a Stax Records-sponsored all-day concert at the 1972 Watts Summer Festival with performances by Stax Records artists such as Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, The Staples Singers, and more.


Mel Stuart

Watch Now

From $3.99 on Prime Video

Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. See more awards »


Learn more

More Like This 

Documentary | Comedy | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A mix of Dave Chappelle's sketch comedy and musical interludes, inspired in part by the 1973 documentary Wattstax.

Director: Michel Gondry
Stars: Dave Chappelle, Yasiin Bey, Lauryn Hill
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  

A young surgeon becomes bored with his wife and family, he has a very successful career, but even with having so much in life, he feels empty and goes through a series of brief and meaningless relations with attractive women.

Director: Mel Stuart
Stars: Elliott Gould, Brenda Vaccaro, Angel Tompkins
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A young woman has difficulty understanding why her husband walks out on her. Alone for the first time, she finds life difficult to cope with and for a time lives with the hope that her ... See full summary »

Director: Mel Stuart
Stars: Trish Van Devere, Monte Markham, Janet Leigh
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A history of the influential English punk band The Damned from their inception in 1976 through to 2015.

Director: Wes Orshoski
Stars: Gaye Advert, Fred Armisen, Roger Armstrong
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

Surf pop duo, Jan and Dean host this showcase of performances by well-known Rock, R&B, and pop stars of the era.

Director: Steve Binder
Stars: The Beach Boys, The Barbarians, Chuck Berry


Cast overview, first billed only:
The Dramatics The Dramatics ... Themselves
The Staple Singers The Staple Singers ... Themselves
Kim Weston Kim Weston ... Herself
Jimmy Jones Jimmy Jones ... Himself
Rance Allen Rance Allen ... Himself
The Emotions The Emotions ... Themselves
William Bell William Bell ... Himself
Louise McCord Louise McCord ... Herself
Debra Manning Debra Manning ... Herself
Eric Mercury Eric Mercury ... Himself
Freddy Robinson Freddy Robinson ... Himself
Lee Sain Lee Sain ... Himself
Ernie Hines Ernie Hines ... Himself
Sonny Warner Sonny Warner ... Himself (as Little Sonny Warner)
The Newcomers The Newcomers ... Themselves


Documentary with a selection from a non-stop 7-hour musical event at Watts, the Los Angeles Coliseum, August 20, 1972. It's a sort of Woodstock event but with black artists, namely the groups Dramatics, Staple Singers, Rance Allen Group, Emotions, Bar Kays, Mel & Tim. Written by Artemis-9

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Laugh! Cry! Sing! Hear! Feel! Dance! Shout! See more »


R | See all certifications »


Official Sites:

PBS [United States]





Release Date:

16 September 1973 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

Sort på hvidt See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)| Dolby Digital (re-release)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Originally The Bar-Kays were going to enter the L.A. Coliseum riding in horse-drawn chariots. However, when the executives of Stax Records heard what the group had planned they ordered them not to do it. It turned out that the reason they didn't want the group to do it was so that they wouldn't upstage the concert's headliner, Isaac Hayes. See more »

Alternate Versions

The 2003 restoration includes the original ending; Isaac Hayes performing the songs "Theme From Shaft" and "Soulsville", which were removed from the film following the 1973 Los Angeles premiere due to the threat of a lawsuit from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) over the use of those songs in a motion picture. The replacement ending, Isaac Hayes performing "Rolling Down A Mountainside" (recorded on a Los Angeles soundstage months after the concert) has been removed and is included as extra material on the 2003 DVD release. See more »


Featured in Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic (2013) See more »


We The People
Written by Chuck Brown and John Buchanan
Performed by The Staple Singers
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Please, Please, Please, Please, Please Release This On DVD
18 January 2003 | by Deceptikon225See all my reviews

I found this gem of a documentary on black culture in the early '70's one night on cable in '98 and was blown away. Having been born in 1972 and growing up in that era it warmed my heart to listen to people talk about what they loved about our culture and to be reminded of how we took care of ourselves and each other back in the day. That is something that is terribly lacking in all communities today. And the musical performances were nothing short of spectacular. Watching the Emotions rendition of "Peace Be Still", I'm not ashamed to say, brought tears to this big ol' Southern boy's eyes, I also enjoyed the late great Rufus Thomas' renditions of "Breakdown" and "Do the Funky Chicken" and the singing of the black national anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing" as they showed the audience filing into the stadium. I recorded it onto VHS the next time it came on and treasured it like the Hope Diamond, but a few months later the tape popped and I have never been able to find it anywhere else since. So I say to the producers of this great film, if you are reading this message, please do yourself and the rest of the world a favor and release this classic on VHS/DVD.

2 of 3 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

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed