Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

DVD Spotlight - Nothing But A Man


In the deep south of the early 1960s, Duff, a somewhat reckless young man (the late Ivan Dixon who would go on to direct The Spook Who Sat By The Door) is drawn to Josie, a grounded preacher's daughter (played by the late Abbey Lincoln, star of stage and screen); they unite; they part, he realizes he prefers stability to freedom, and they reconcile.

Like most "black-themed" films of its era, Nothing But a Man was written, directed and produced by whites: Michael Roemer and Robert Young, two Jewish filmmakers with documentary, American cinema verité backgrounds and Harvard degrees.

Most of the film was shot in New Jersey and not in the south, where the story is set; however, it's worth noting that the production team earnestly researched southern life and Jim Crow custom, reportedly staying with Black families throughout the South for an entire year before production began.

The original soundtrack features Motown stars like Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells, Martha and the Vandellas, The Miracles, and The Marvelettes.

I'll review Nothing But A Man fully during a future podcast. In the meantime, if you haven't seen it, do yourself a big favor and pick up the DVD.

Here are the film's first 6 minutes:


  1. must love movies said...

    that is an interesting fact to know that they did their research and were white. this goes back to the august wilson essay.

  2. Invisible Woman said...

    This is one of my very, very favorite movies of all time--it is so simple and real and beautiful. It was also Malcolm X's favorite film.

    I was surprised to learn the backers were white, but they were also non-American (from what i've read, anyway), so their hearts were probably in a different place from most white americans of that time.

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