Ibochild | Los Angeles, CA USA | 03/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With a running time of just under one hour, DUTCHMAN has enough dramatic explosiveness to rock a movie theatre to pieces. Based on the play by LeRoi Jones (before he changed his name to Amiri Baraka), DUTCHMAN tells the story of Clay (Daytime Emmy Award-winner Al Freeman, Jr.), a seemingly mild-mannered black man that encounters an uninhibited white woman named Lula (two time Academy Award nominee Shirley Knight).While sitting in a subway car, Clay glances out the window and catches the eye of Lula. Before long, Lula is in the subway car and the fireworks begin.Like many plays of the 1960s, DUTCHMAN is not afraid of being provocative. It deals with not only issues of race, but sexuality in a very frank manner. Despite being made before the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) started their ratings system, the film has a frankness that would still make it provocative to even today's jaded audiences. Shirley Knight gives a livewire performance that is absolutely fearless. Al Freeman, Jr. plays his character honestly and with complete conviction. Both actors are unafraid to explore the inner depths of this material. The result is absolutely riveting.Today, when even an actor of Denzel Washington's stature will not be seen kissing a white woman on screen, Freeman and Knight pull few stops here. The result is a film that dares to make the viewer uncomfortable. Recent independent efforts like MONSTER'S BALL, L.I.E., STORYTELLING and IRREVERSIBLE might go there, but don't expect to see this in a mainstream film of today.Adding to the film's intensity is the fact that Clay and Lula are the only characters that speak in the film. Also, all of the action takes place inside a hot subway car giving the film a claustrophobic feel. Without revealing too much of the dramatic details, things get pretty intense inside there.Despite being filmmed in Britain with a more polished look, the DUTCHMAN is clearly within the tradition of the maverick independent films of the early 1960s like SHADOWS and THE CONNECTION. For her work in the film, Shirley Knight won the prestigious Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the 1967 Venice Film Festival. Anthony Harvey, future Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee for THE LION IN WINTER directed the film. Multiple Academy Award winner John Barry did the haunting score.If you're looking for light, Disney fare, you're best to stay away. However, if you're looking for a film that will stir your intellect as well as your emotions, DUTCHMAN should definitely be high on your viewing list. Just be prepared for the ride."
1 Hour of '60s Magic
Adam Bernstein | Northwest, USA | 07/05/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Dutchman is a play by LeRoi Jones (aka Amiri Baraka) set to this 1966 film starring Shirley Knight. First thing that strikes you is Knight's Sexyness with a capital S. She's all over the screen and Al Freeman Jr. as well. The whole hourlong Kerouacesque meditation on life, sex, and race plays out in black and white (pun intended) in a subway car. Bears some similarity to its contemporary, The Incident (Martin Sheen), but Dutchman goes far deeper in its artistic eloquence. The underlying beatnik stream-of-consciousness dialectic between Lula and Clay, like much work of the '60s era, says much more than it's consciously aware of. What would happen if someone suddenly becomes "Authentic" within the usually forced inauthentistic realm of a subway car, and prompts her cohort to do the same? I.e. Lula and Clay say and do Exactly as their true selves dictate. And the concept succeeds in its spontaneity, intensity, and message. Essentially a New York underground (pun intended) work of high-art. Needless to say it's only "contrived" in Leonard Maltin's nerdish mind."
Sexual and Racial Tensions Burst All Over the Screen
Gerard D. Launay | Berkeley, California | 02/22/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Think about how many films really affect you...deep in your gut. This is one of those. It's hard to believe this film came out in 1966, let alone 2006. It has been said there is nothing like it in film...before or since. The sex is hungry and the racial exchange bitter. This is not a film for a tame Sidney Poitier.
The film opens with a subway train streaming through the black tunnels beneath New York City. A pretty white girl - a sexual tease - attempts to seduce a nicely dressed black man on a subway. Initially, they are alone in this hot box of a subway car. She suggests sex, then pulls away, then suggest sex again. The fellow gets aroused and later the emotions get hot when she demeans him and he reveals his disdain for white civilization. Then there is an explosive climax.
The music and the photography work together to give this movie a lean, hard, and at times, expressionistic feel. If you are up to the challenge...ready to be ripped apart...then this film will not disappoint.