Nothing But a Man

( 1 )

Overview

A landmark independent film, Nothing but a Man is the first dramatic story featuring a largely black cast created for an integrated audience (the work of black filmmakers such as Oscar Micheaux was intended for audiences who patronized black-only theaters). White filmmakers Michael Roemer and Robert M. Young traveled through the South in 1962 in search of ideas for a fiction feature set during the growing turbulence of the civil rights era. Their story, based in Alabama but shot in southern New Jersey, is only ...
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Overview

A landmark independent film, Nothing but a Man is the first dramatic story featuring a largely black cast created for an integrated audience (the work of black filmmakers such as Oscar Micheaux was intended for audiences who patronized black-only theaters). White filmmakers Michael Roemer and Robert M. Young traveled through the South in 1962 in search of ideas for a fiction feature set during the growing turbulence of the civil rights era. Their story, based in Alabama but shot in southern New Jersey, is only tangentially related to the movement toward equality. Duff, an itinerant black railroad laborer (Ivan Dixon), romances and marries Josie, a small-town preacher's daughter (Abbey Lincoln). Duff insists on being treated with respect, but his stance is personal rather than political. After he settles down in the town with Josie, he comes up against white bosses who want to make sure he knows his place and black men such as Josie's father who don't want to rock the boat for fear of losing what little advantage they have. Duff's relationship with his own father (Julius Harris), a broken-down drunk living in Birmingham, teaches him valuable lessons about dignity and self-worth. The film was lauded at both the New York and Venice festivals but received limited release in theaters specializing in foreign and independent film. However, word of mouth in the black community (where Nothing but a Man was for years a staple on the 16 mm rental market, in the days before VCRs) and continued attention by film historians have ensured the status of Nothing but a Man as a pioneering and enduring work.
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Special Features

The cast and crew 40 years later; Short film: Portrait of Abbey; Extensive liner notes with original stills from the film; Cast and crew biographies ; Interactive menus; Scene selection
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Tom Wiener
The strength of Nothing but a Man lies in its ability to tell a story that is both specific and universal. Although director Michael Roemer and cinematographer Robert M. Young, who shared credit for the screenplay, set out to make a film about black life in the Deep South during the early 1960s civil rights movement, they wisely decided to concentrate on a personal story. Duff Anderson is a black man whose need for dignity and respect transcends any time or setting. The reactions of white characters (and even some of the blacks) to Duff's simple demands are shaded by a realization that tides of change are slowly sweeping through even the most deeply racist regions of the South. On the other hand, the film's story of relationships between fathers and their sons and daughters is a familiar one. Duff feeds off the disappointments of his father, while Josie has to deal with the compromises that her father has made to maintain his status within the white power structure. This aspect of the story reflects the fact that Roemer, a Jew born in Germany, used an autobiographical script he had already written about his relationship with his own father as the basis for the screenplay of Nothing but a Man. The film's landmark status is well-deserved; not only did it break new ground in subject matter, but it did so in dramatically persuasive fashion.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/28/2004
  • UPC: 767685946138
  • Original Release: 1964
  • Rating:

  • Source: New Video Group
  • Presentation: Special Edition / Anniversary Edition
  • Time: 1:32:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 43,177

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ivan Dixon Duff Anderson
Abbey Lincoln Josie Dawson
Gloria Foster Lee
Martin Priest Driver
Leonard Parker Frankie
Yaphet Kotto Jocko
Helen Lounck Effie Simms
Milton Williams Pop
Mel Stewart Riddick
Helene Anindell Doris
Charles MacRae Joe
Richard Weber Bud Ellis
Jim Wright Bartender
Ed Rowan Willie
Julius Harris Will Anderson
Stanley Green Rev. Dawson
Walter Wilson Car Owner
Alfred Puryear Barney
Tom Ligon Teenager
William Jordan Teenager
Dorothy Hall Soloist
Gertrude Jeanette Mrs. Dawson
Gil Rogers Mill Foreman
Peter Carew Store Keeper
Jay Brooks Undertaker
Robert Berger Desk Clerk
Richard Ward Mill Hands
Moses Gunn Mill Hands
William Phillips Car Passenger
Esther Rolle Church Woman
Technical Credits
Michael Roemer Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Luke Bennett Editor
Lamont Dozier Songwriter
Eddie Holland Songwriter
Brian Holland Songwriter
William Rhodes Production Designer
Robert Rubin Producer, Sound/Sound Designer
Nancy Ruffing Costumes/Costume Designer
Robert Young Producer
Robert M. Young Cinematographer, Producer, Screenwriter
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Workday Ends... Play Begins [6:15]
2. The Meeting [4:38]
3. First Encounters [9:27]
4. The Conversation [6:26]
5. Birmingham Blues [14:07]
6. The Wedding [11:42]
7. Unemployed [17:28]
8. The Gas Station [6:20]
9. Rage [3:38]
10. "I'm Just Like Him" [7:23]
11. "I Feel So Free" [2:31]
12. End Credits [1:09]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play
   Scenes
   Extras
      The Cast & Crew: 40 Years Later
         Ivan Dixon
         Julius Harris
         Abbey Lincoln
         Michael Roemer/Robert Young
         Play All
      Short Film: Portrait of Abbey
      Cast Biographies
         Ivan Dixon
         Abbey Lincoln
         Yaphet Koto
         Julius Harris
         Gloria Foster
      Filmmaker Biographies
         Michael Roemer
         Robert M. Young
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Simple, Poignant, Moving

    "Where are the African ancestors?!!", implores Abby Lincoln on the special features interview contained on this DVD edition of Nothing But A Man, a moving testament to life among Blacks in the American South of the 1960s, particularly the plight of one personally winning but uncompromising knockabout young black man. Lincoln seems far from the softspoken, humble but dignified school teacher she portrays in the film - and, indeed, she had to make concessions, like wearing a wig for the role. But her spirit and Ivan Dixon's infectious charm make the experience memorable.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews