A proud black man and his school-teacher wife face discriminatory challenges in 1960s America.
A proud black man and his school-teacher wife face discriminatory challenges in 1960s America.
Ivan Dixon Abbey Lincoln Julius Harris Gloria Foster Martin Priest Leonard Parker Yaphet Kotto Stanley Greene Helen Lounck Helene Arrindell Walter Wilson Milton Williams Mel Stewart Marshal Tompkin Alfred Puryear Ed Rowan Tom Ligon William Jordan Dorothy Hall Gertrude Jeannette Gil Rogers Richard Webber Eugene Wood Jim Wright Arland Schubert Peter Carew Bill Riola Jay Brooks Robert Berger Show All…
I’m sure many viewers over the years have been surprised by the fact that Nothing But a Man not only wasn’t made by an African American but it was actually co-written, co-produced, and directed by a German-born Jewish filmmaker (Michael Roemer) who had little prior experience of the American South. But given how sincere, sensitive, yet unsentimental the film is in depicting black life in America during the early sixties, it almost makes sense. It's safe to say that Roemer's status as a relative outsider, one who was in a position to be as objective as possible, had something to do with how things turned out. Unlike most such films, it neither portrays its black characters as…
"They may not use a knife, but they have other ways."
Movies about racism to this day rely on cliché conflicts and physically violent clashes often to communicate nothing more than "racism exists and it is bad" (or in the case of pablum like THE HELP, "racism existed and it was bad until good white people stopped the bad white people from being so gosh darn racist."). What NOTHING BUT A MAN reminds us is that the violence of institutionalized discrimination runs deeper than verbal altercations and physical attacks. The regular daily indignities suffered by men like Duff (Ivan Dixon showing a restraint not typical to performances of this era) as they attempt to earn a living, fall in love,…
Duff Anderson (Ivan Dixon) is a mere laborer on the railroad section gang in early 1960’s Alabama. But he’s a remarkable man, we think, on the merits of his jolly, good-natured, courteous nature that disallows disingenuous elements to get him down. At least he remains that way in our eyes until we see his stubborn side. He will court the virtuous preacher’s daughter, Josie (Abbey Lincoln), even when he is warned he is not accomplished enough to uphold a commitment to truly take care of her. What comes to head, in the black & white neorealist drama Nothing But a Man, is a man falling apart at the seams after a series of troubles. He tries to form solidarity between his…
☆"I ain't fit to live with no mo'."☆
One of the all-time underseen gems of American cinema, precisely because it's not one of those easy-going and reassuring movies for White audiences, Nothing But a Man is Michael Roemer's Venice Film Festival-winning triumph of a realistic and sensitive portrait of Black life. Featuring a knockout performance by Ivan Dixon -- and a soundtrack filled with Motown icons -- this independent drama is a masterwork of neorealist film, naturalistic yet gripping in its boldness.
Dixon plays railroad worker Duff Anderson, laying down track outside Birmingham, Alabama with his Black colleagues. The pay is pretty good, but the work is hard. Joining Frankie (Leonard Parker), Jocko (Yaphet Kotto), and other co-workers one night,…
The title is simplistic enough in telling us what the film wants to achieve. Not 'trouble', not 'boy' but a man like anyone else. In a turbulent political period for America the front line battle for racial equality has been well documented, yet for the majority, the men and women unseen by the cameras, the daily grind of acceptance from others continued.
Which is exactly what we are shown here. A regular guy living a regular life, shown within the context of his own world, the small details that make up the larger picture for us all. What turns this into such a refreshingly honest look at being black in the 60s is the lack of patronisation or white guilt…
An exacting study of faces and behaviors, struggling to be human in a dehumanizingly racist world. The Black faces are front-and-center; there are actual racial stakes to such fastidious concentration, the opposite of John Huston's arbitrary anti-negative-space compositions. Here, we are witnessing a story firmly centered on the people—who give a face to the complex political, social, economic, and gender tensions that the film maturely and intelligently negotiates in a never-negligible background.
The world is not pat, nor does it come from an arbitrarily abstract place inside Michael Roemer's or Robert Young's heads; instead, we are concerned with interiors, a Motown song is always playing, lively church congregations, quietly unaffected dancing. The alcoholic father looks at his son like a…
There's so many great things going on in Nothing But a Man. First, the direction is beautiful; it's sensitive and gentle and definitely inspired by Oscar Micheaux in part, especially in the setting and the independent filmmaking style. Ivan Dixon and Abbey Lincoln are absolutely wonderful in the lead roles. Josie's (Lincoln) little smile, one she can't help but get whenever she's around Duff (Dixon) is the sweetest thing to see. It felt so authentic and was such a lovely acting choice to convey this blossoming love and how new and exciting it felt to her.
One of the major themes of the film is financial and economic discrimination and how that affects Duff and his perception of…
If there is just one 1960s African American message drama that is completely necessary to watch it's Nothing But a Man. That's because Michael Roemer and Robert M. Young's film is interested, first and foremost, in the internal lives of its characters and not just the external forces of bigotry. We see Duff (Ivan Dixon) court Josie (Abbey Lincoln) and how his black coworkers react to it, long before we ever see them go on their first date. When the preacher's daughter accepts it's after enough interactions have shown that he'd be worth talking to. And as they drive up to the overlook and kiss for the first time in his car there's something just outside of our view that…
"I think if you tried living in a town like this instead of running free and easy you'd soon change your tune."
"I doubt it."
It’s clever how this film isn’t ostensibly about racism, but how racism is always inherent within the lives of our lead characters. Whether it’s on the periphery thanks to some sly remarks or only threatening to boil over, it’s saddening that anything Duff does within the film, within his life, is always going to be cloaked by the threat of racism. What this film does well is highlight the less obvious oppression but how powerful it still is. Duff is repeatedly called “boy” over and over without a bat of an eye from anyone, his white boss simply takes the word of some mean white guys over Duff’s after an altercation they started. Sometimes it’s not just the overt haymakers…
kind of incredible that berlin-born jewish director michael roemer wrote and directed this. the film isn't interested in making a statement, though, or even giving us a hero to sympathize. i think that's maybe too easy to ask for with a movie about a black family in 1960s america -- and the audible gasps at a *certain scene* proved that.
A lot of people have already written well about this wonderful movie, and I don't have much to add... but watching it as a thing-of-nineteensixtyfour drove home to me how little representation of black America there had been until then; I don't think there had been anything out there that mirrored people's lived experience the way (I assume) this did. That right there gives this movie great power.
And so do Ivan Dixon and Abbey Lincoln's performances, both were incomparably good. I had no idea Abbey Lincoln would be such a good actor, in addition to her important contributions to jazz history.
Here, browse through the other reviews:
This was supposedly Malcolm X's favorite film. Easy to see why - a touching romance, a nuanced view on racism in the 60s South, and the moral struggle about when to push and when to give. All underscored by Motown's first original soundtrack. Ivan Dixon never got the roles he deserved, but at least he was able to shine in "Nothing But a Man".
absolutely incredible 😌
Extremely sincere, gentle and subtle.
Warms your heart like no other and simultaneously breaks it without some clunky twist or grand event.
It’s a simple stoey, It doesn’t glamorize or catastrophize, but it’s focus on grounded human beings and their experiences makes it extremely compelling. How do we deal with turbulence, do we revert to our past or do we push through? Do we conform or fight?
And thats thanks in no small part to the incredibly moving and tangible performances.
Even with the small budget and the below preferred quality I watched it at the beauty of it still shone through. Stunning compositions and empathetic close ups.
There’s just so much heart in this movie, all the above nonsense definitely doesn't do it justice.
It’s a film of unwavering realness, showcasing not only the terrible ugly pain of life, but also the beautiful moments of joy that can come in between it.
Maybe a tough watch at times, but one that is undoubtedly worth it. A truly striking and bold display of the struggles of a black American, one that has certainly not lost its pertinence whatsoever in the following decades.
watched for my film history class, i enjoyed its portrayal of african americans in the 60s and over all storyline but considering the class this is for, i just don’t understand what this had to do with overall film history, like what did this do different or contribute to the growth and changing of film over time
A masterpiece of American Neorealism.
Created under the pressure of the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s, Nothing But a Man is a diamond which sparkles in its subtlety 💎. I was initially skeptical of the films white writer and director being able to capture a genuine portrayal of a black story- especially one which tackles socioeconomic and racial issues. However, I was truly moved by the films subtle yet endearing nature. It’s not trying to be a film of ultimate activism or example- it’s not trying to prove anything more than what it is. Simply put, Nothing but a Man tells the story of man and woman who fall in love and try and navigate their life together. It’s a film which acknowledges the…
The term “criminally underrated” is thrown around alot but it actually applies for this film
“Baby, I feel so free inside.”
Frank yet gentle study of an African American couple just trying to get on with life in the South. The film does a fantastic job of showing the racism that permeates society in a subtle way, without being abrasive or using a pivotal scene in a clumsy, in your face statement. It’s just there, always, constantly in the background. Heartbreaking stuff at times. Came here to see Yaphet Kotto’s first film after his sad passing and found something special.
RIP Yaphet Kotto
I watched this for the first time in seven years, and it's held up for me tremendously. That this film came out in 1964 is so impressive, as it's progressive in a number of ways for that time. Not that it's perfect, but it goes in directions that films rarely did in that time. The lead character Duff, played perfectly by Ivan Dixon, does not back down to white characters who look down on him and use racist actions and language against him. This is presented alongside his romance with Josie, played by the equally great Abbey Lincoln. I was fascinated by how the film depicts their love and his place in it, and how he comes to terms with his role as a husband and a father. The final moments of the film bring it all together so nicely.