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A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich (1978)

PG | | Drama | 3 February 1978 (USA)
A troubled boy (Larry B. Scott) becomes addicted to heroin, and his mother (Cicely Tyson) and foster father (Paul Winfield) help him fight it.


Ralph Nelson


Alice Childress (novel), Alice Childress (screenplay)
3 wins. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Cicely Tyson ... Sweets
Paul Winfield ... Butler
Larry B. Scott ... Benjie
Helen Martin ... Mrs. Bell
Glynn Turman ... Nigeria
David Groh ... Cohen
Kevin Hooks ... Tiger
Kenneth Green Kenneth Green ... Jimmy Lee
Harold Sylvester ... Doctor
Erin Blunt ... Carwell
Arthur French Arthur French ... Security Guard
Bill Cobbs ... Bartender
Sheila Wills Sheila Wills ... Admissions Clerk
Arnold Johnson ... Patient
Barbara Alston Barbara Alston ... Girl Friend


Benjie is a troubled teen in Los Angeles, living with his grandmother, mother, and her new boyfriend. Traumatized by his father's desertion and the situation at home, Benjie gets introduced to heroin. The downward spiral begins. At school he faces conflict between the two teachers he respects: Nigeria who emphasizes African history and is hostile to white teachers like Mr. Cohen, who pursues racial harmony. Benjie's family must come to terms with the devastation he has created in his life and make changes which affect them all. Written by jeaneva

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Did You Know?


Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield and Kevin Hooks all starred together in the 1972 movie "Sounder". Cicely and Paul played a married couple in both movies. Although Kevin Hooks played their son in "Sounder", he played the neighborhood dope pusher in "A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich". See more »


Referenced in Honest Trailers: Peter Pan (1953) (2015) See more »


Somebody Right Now
Written by Tom McIntosh
Performed by The Hubert Laws Group
See more »

User Reviews

30 November 2019 | by view_and_reviewSee all my reviews

Let me exhale here for a bit. This movie was heavy. I could barely stand the weight of it, it was so heavy.

Let me get the accolades out of the way.

The script. Great. Cicely Tyson. Solid. Paul Winfield. Excellent. Larry B. Scott (whom I'd only known as Lamar in Revenge of the Nerds). Spectacular. He easily rivaled the performance of Timothy Hutton who won an Oscar for his role in Ordinary People.

This was a deep movie dealing with drug use in South Central Los Angeles. But it was more than that though wasn't it? At the forefront was a 13-year-old Benjie (Larry B. Scott) who's method of dealing with being fatherless was turning to hard drugs. There's little sadder than a kid strung out on drugs.

The backdrop to that was his mother's boyfriend, Butler (Paul Winfield), trying his best to fill the father void while constantly being rebuffed by Benjie. Sweets (Cicely Tyson), Benjie's mother, was trying desperately to maintain a relationship with her son as well as her partner Butler.

And behind all of that was an environment of social justice as Black folks in the ghetto struggled to carve a niche out for themselves while fighting drugs, crime, and the man.

All of these plot elements plus the magnificent performances made for an awesome movie. It is jarring most times, angering other times, and down right sad sometimes. The moments of levity are few and far in between. You'll beg for a happy ending while realizing that what brings happiness is relative.

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Release Date:

3 February 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich See more »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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