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Nothing But a Man
Nothing But a Man
Actors: Ivan Dixon, Abbey Lincoln, Julius Harris, Gloria Foster, Martin Priest
Director: Michael Roemer
Genres: Drama
NR     2004     1hr 32min

A landmark independent film, NOTHING BUT MAN is one of the most sincere and sensitive pictures ever made about the struggles and hardships of Black life in 1960s America. Lauded by critics at the Venice and New York film f...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Ivan Dixon, Abbey Lincoln, Julius Harris, Gloria Foster, Martin Priest
Director: Michael Roemer
Creators: Robert M. Young, Michael Roemer, Luke Bennett, Robert Rubin
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Love & Romance, Classics, Family Life
Studio: Cinema V
Format: DVD - Black and White - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 09/28/2004
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1964
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 32min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
Edition: Special Edition
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

The Raging Bull of the 1960s; a really poetic, amazing film
TUCO H. | Los Angeles, CA | 09/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Here's an American neo-realist masterwork that captures the temper of black consciousness in the south just prior to the mass upheavals of the early '60s. Long before Scorsese made "Mean Streets" and "Raging Bull," Michael Roemer had made this great film. No other film dramatizes so profoundly the plight of a man whose basic human pride will not be compromised under any circumstances. Ivan Dixon as Duff gives one of the greatest performances in the history of cinema and Abbey Lincoln as Josie, the preacher's daughter he tries to settle down with, is just about perfect in control of nuance. These characters are extraordinary "ordinary" people, truly heroic; yet the tragedy that stalks them may or may not be hopeless at this time in history, due to an apparent shift in black consciousness, a general "fed-up-with-it-all" attitude that needs men like Duff to inspire itself. The entire cast is uniformly excellent and there are too many brilliant scenes to mention here. The film seems cut directly from the fabric of real life in a semi-documentary Rossellini-like style. "Little Fugitive" and "Medium Cool" are the only other pre-70s American films I've seen that feel this real and authentic. In terms of the subtlety with which racial politics and power relations are exposed through simple gestures and concrete acts rather than rhetoric and melodrama, Martin Ritt's "Sounder" and Paul Schrader's "Blue Collar" are the only films I've seen that come close. Charles Burnett's low-budget independent masterpiece "Killer of Sheep," also comes to mind. There are a lot of lessons to be learned here, especially by directors like Spike Lee, who I'm sure has seen this movie, and who has made decent films in the past (Do the Right Thing, She's gotta have it), but now wastes his time making laughable, "really hardcore," "I want to transcend puny barriers with overloads of style" cartoons like "Summer of Sam." "Nothing but a Man" is light years away from the two-dimensional nonsense they call "realism" these days. Over and out"
TUCO H. | 08/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A film that deserves far more exposure than it has apparently received thus far. There is drama to be found in everyday lives. NBAM is set in a time and place when black survival was so tenuous that its pursuit necessarily involved drama. There is plenty of dramatic conflict in the main character's struggle to find a way to live with himself and those around him. Other conflicts include decisions about romance, parents, children, religion and work. The acting and direction are uniformly topnotch. Abby Lincoln radiantly and subtly portrays faith and dignity. Because so many films about racist and other tragedies use a hammer to drive home messages of injustice, NBAM refreshes. While the narrative is clear, viewers are credited with the ability to connect dots. These are qualities too rarely found in contemporary cinema, although they are richly apparent in the work of directors including Marcel Pagnol, Sagyajit Ray (Sp? - anyway, director of the World of Apu, etc.), John Huston, Jean Vigo, Werner Herzog (in a few of his films), Fassbinder... NBAM provides less of an escape than some of the work just referenced. But its realistic style and well-drawn characterizations made me hungry for at least a sequel. Sidebar: That the story takes place when music like "Heatwave" was popular just provides ironic contrast and a window, for non-black viewers, into the disparity between ebulliant soul hits and early-'60s African American living."
A Great Film
David M. Barrett | Villanova, PA | 06/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I first saw "Nothing But a Man" on public TV about 35 years ago when I was in high school. I never forgot it. I was very happy to learn of its release on tape in the 1990s and now its availability on DVD. Terrific acting, and a tight script. Unlike so many Hollywood movies, you have to pay attention to the details in this one. It's in my personal Top 50 films of all time."
Groundbreaking film
R. Sohi | 03/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In 1964, when "Nothing But a Man" was released, it must have been a shock to see a film that presents a story focused on the lives of black characters, and does so with such vivid and unsparing authenticity. The film's power has faded little in over forty years and remains essential viewing for reasons that far exceed its historical importance. The story of a man who refuses to conform or give in but who breaks a little along the way as he ends up fighting everyone around him is told with such courage and honesty that you are hooked from the opening scenes. The direction is unobtrusive and the script manages to effectively walk the delicate balance between delivering a message without being heavy-handed. The actors in the film don't seem to have a lot of range but what they do, they do very effectively and are completely convincing.

I end up watching this film about once a decade (I've seen it three times). On both occasions as I anticipated watching it again I've thought its not going to be as good as I remember it being. I've been wrong both times, rediscovering the film's force and seeing even more layers of subtlety as I watched it through the filter of my added experience. I can't recommend this film highly enough.