The Spook that Sat by the Door (1973)

A movie that you should have seen but probably haven’t.

A congressman hoping to attract African-American voters during an election year decides to make political hay by pointing out that the Central Intelligence Agency has no black agents. Bowing to subsequent public pressure, the CIA admits a number of black applicants to their training program, but they purposefully make the process difficult and unpleasant enough to winnow out nearly all the African-American students. Dan Freeman (Lawrence Cook), a strong, intelligent but soft-spoken man, somehow makes it through the gauntlet to become the black CIA agent; however, rather than being given important field assignments, Freeman is put in charge of the agency’s copying machines and gives tours of their facilities to give the offices a progressive front for visitors. After a few years, Freeman leaves the agency to move back to his hometown of Chicago and do work with the community…at least that’s what he tells his superiors. In fact, Freeman has used his time at the CIA collecting information on how to launch a political revolution, and not long after he arrives in the Windy City, he begins recruiting an army of leftist radicals and black nationalists fed up with the system. With their help, Freeman launches the first stage of an armed revolt with the stated goal of bringing the white-dominated power structure to its knees.
Review found in NY Times by Vincent Canby

If you haven’t seen it buy or rent it. If you have seen it, let’s talk about it.

0 responses to “The Spook that Sat by the Door (1973)”

  1. I thought this was a very timely and poignant movie. Unfortunately, enough intelligent black folks desirous of change failed to watch it. I would strongly suggest having this in the library. Here we go Black Panther, here we go!

  2. Yes, this is one of the more profound movies I've seen. Every Black man-child in the promised land needs to see this and gain valuable information regarding how one endurances of a process of becoming true to the cause of liberation.

  3. I actually bought this book for a dollar at my favorite bookstore last year. I will invest some time into reading it really soon.

  4. This is one of the most important films ever made in the history of Black Cinema. It was suppressed by United Artists because of its militant subject matter, which is why you may not have previously seen it or heard of it. It was made during the Blaxploitation era, offering black nationalist themes without the pornography of Sweet Sweetback's Baaaadasssssss Song. Images of women in the film are problematic, but reflect black nationalist ideologies about woman, particularly during that time. Ivan Dixon is one of the most prolific actors and directors of our time and this is a film that should be watched by everyone — not just Black people.

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