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Nothing But a Man (1964)

Ivan Dixon , Abbey Lincoln , Michael Roemer  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ivan Dixon, Abbey Lincoln, Julius Harris, Gloria Foster, Martin Priest
  • Directors: Michael Roemer
  • Writers: Robert M. Young, Michael Roemer
  • Producers: Robert M. Young, Michael Roemer, Robert Rubin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC, Special Edition
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Cinema V
  • DVD Release Date: September 28, 2004
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002JUX42
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,559 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Nothing But a Man" on IMDb

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

Editorial Reviews

From the era when American films almost never put black characters at the center of a movie, Nothing but a Man stands like a beacon of intelligence and sympathy. It was shot in 1964 at the height of the Civil Rights movement by two Jewish white men, director Michael Roemer and cinematographer Robert M. Young, who wrote the script after traveling through the South and immersing themselves in African American life. Ivan Dixon (later of Hogan's Heroes) plays a railroad worker who settles down to marry a preacher's daughter (jazz singer Abbey Lincoln), only to find that the system is rigged against him. The film is not condescending or idealizing in its approach; some of the problems of the characters are outside the reality of racism. Aside from its status as a landmark social-issue film, it is good to recognize, 40 years on, what a terrific piece of filmmaking this is, with fine acting (Yaphet Kotto and Gloria Foster are in the cast), lucid dialogue, and a fresh feeling for everyday domestic life. --Robert Horton

Product Description

A landmark independent film, NOTHING BUT MAN is one of the most sincere and sensitive pictures ever made about the struggles and hardships of Black life in 1960s America. Lauded by critics at the Venice and New York film festivals when it first premiered

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
Here's an American neo-realist masterwork that captures the temper of black consciousness in the south just prior to the mass upheavals of the early '60s.
Long before Scorsese made "Mean Streets" and "Raging Bull," Michael Roemer had made this great film. No other film dramatizes so profoundly the plight of a man whose basic human pride will not be compromised under any circumstances.
Ivan Dixon as Duff gives one of the greatest performances in the history of cinema and Abbey Lincoln as Josie, the preacher's daughter he tries to settle down with, is just about perfect in control of nuance. These characters are extraordinary "ordinary" people, truly heroic; yet the tragedy that stalks them may or may not be hopeless at this time in history, due to an apparent shift in black consciousness, a general "fed-up-with-it-all" attitude that needs men like Duff to inspire itself.
The entire cast is uniformly excellent and there are too many brilliant scenes to mention here. The film seems cut directly from the fabric of real life in a semi-documentary Rossellini-like style. "Little Fugitive" and "Medium Cool" are the only other pre-70s American films I've seen that feel this real and authentic.
In terms of the subtlety with which racial politics and power relations are exposed through simple gestures and concrete acts rather than rhetoric and melodrama, Martin Ritt's "Sounder" and Paul Schrader's "Blue Collar" are the only films I've seen that come close. Charles Burnett's low-budget independent masterpiece "Killer of Sheep," also comes to mind.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revelatory August 24, 2003
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
A film that deserves far more exposure than it has apparently received thus far. There is drama to be found in everyday lives. NBAM is set in a time and place when black survival was so tenuous that its pursuit necessarily involved drama. There is plenty of dramatic conflict in the main character's struggle to find a way to live with himself and those around him. Other conflicts include decisions about romance, parents, children, religion and work. The acting and direction are uniformly topnotch. Abby Lincoln radiantly and subtly portrays faith and dignity. Because so many films about racist and other tragedies use a hammer to drive home messages of injustice, NBAM refreshes. While the narrative is clear, viewers are credited with the ability to connect dots. These are qualities too rarely found in contemporary cinema, although they are richly apparent in the work of directors including Marcel Pagnol, Sagyajit Ray (Sp? - anyway, director of the World of Apu, etc.), John Huston, Jean Vigo, Werner Herzog (in a few of his films), Fassbinder... NBAM provides less of an escape than some of the work just referenced. But its realistic style and well-drawn characterizations made me hungry for at least a sequel. Sidebar: That the story takes place when music like "Heatwave" was popular just provides ironic contrast and a window, for non-black viewers, into the disparity between ebulliant soul hits and early-'60s African American living.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Film June 18, 2006
By David
I first saw "Nothing But a Man" on public TV about 35 years ago when I was in high school. I never forgot it. I was very happy to learn of its release on tape in the 1990s and now its availability on DVD. Terrific acting, and a tight script. Unlike so many Hollywood movies, you have to pay attention to the details in this one. It's in my personal Top 50 films of all time.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking film March 30, 2007
By R. Sohi
In 1964, when "Nothing But a Man" was released, it must have been a shock to see a film that presents a story focused on the lives of black characters, and does so with such vivid and unsparing authenticity. The film's power has faded little in over forty years and remains essential viewing for reasons that far exceed its historical importance. The story of a man who refuses to conform or give in but who breaks a little along the way as he ends up fighting everyone around him is told with such courage and honesty that you are hooked from the opening scenes. The direction is unobtrusive and the script manages to effectively walk the delicate balance between delivering a message without being heavy-handed. The actors in the film don't seem to have a lot of range but what they do, they do very effectively and are completely convincing.

I end up watching this film about once a decade (I've seen it three times). On both occasions as I anticipated watching it again I've thought it's not going to be as good as I remember it being. I've been wrong both times, rediscovering the film's force and seeing even more layers of subtlety as I watched it through the filter of my added experience. I can't recommend this film highly enough.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films about the Af/Am. experience January 8, 2007
Once you see this film you won't forget this! Low budget, but excellent and compelling story of a Black man (Ivan Dixon-best remembered as "Kinch" of "Hogan's Heroes") in the South who faces classism (he is a poor man who wants to marry a middle-class preacer's daughter played by Abbey Lincoln) as well as racism. When the local whites see that Dixon refuses to pay the "Uncle Tom game," the word gets out and he becomes unhirable.

This film examines a lot of issues in between all this, but I will spare all that for the viewer. You really have to see it. Lots of good atmospheric touches that makes the Southern urban ghetto scenery authentic, as well as the R&B and Gospel soundtrack. Look for Esther Rolle (Florida Evans from "Good Times") as an extra in a church scene.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Gwendolyn Tyus
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing But The Truth
I grew up in racist segregated Florida so I can totally identify with this little film and the Uppity Negro portrayed by Ivan Dixon. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Samuel Augustus Jennings
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing but a Man
I have not seen this movie over 20 years. I wanted to add this movie to my collection too. I thought the movie was very realistic and moving.
Published 3 months ago by Audrey Chaney
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding the impact of oppression
This film tells the story of a young couple's struggle to make a life for themselves in the segregated South. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Sharon Wallis
5.0 out of 5 stars A story of a Black man's struggle to find himself
I initially saw this movie on the Aspire station and thought it would be important to have in my personal collection. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Ryan
5.0 out of 5 stars Poitier's biggest career mistake...
...was to turn down the lead in this movie. The role was offered to him, according to its creators in the featurettes, although they don't account for his refusal. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Bert vanC Bailey
5.0 out of 5 stars What did you like about the DVD?
I loved the story line. I was real and reminded me of growing up and talking to my Grandmothers about how things were when they were younger..
Published 14 months ago by Brenda Gray Fields
5.0 out of 5 stars "They Can't Touch Me Inside." "... Like Hell They Can't."
There are film buffs. There are history buffs. There are sociology buffs. This is the type of film that should appeal to all three.

The story is really very simple. Read more
Published 18 months ago by James E. Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing But A Man
I loved this movie. The cast of characters is first rate...the storyline is excellent....the performances are very effective. It deals with racism.... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Matti Kniva Spencer
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing But A Man: A Review
Nothing But A Man was released in 1964, directed and written by Michael Roemer, a Jewish man who fled Germany after the “night of broken glass”, which took place in 1938 and was... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Marc Goldfinger
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