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Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971)

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After saving a Black Panther from some racist cops, a black male prostitute goes on the run from "the man" with the help of the ghetto community and some disillusioned Hells Angels.

Director:

Melvin Van Peebles
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Simon Chuckster ... Beetle
Melvin Van Peebles ... Sweetback
Hubert Scales Hubert Scales ... Mu-Mu
John Dullaghan ... Commissioner
Wesley Gale Wesley Gale ... (as West Gale)
Niva Ruschell
Rhetta Hughes Rhetta Hughes ... Old Girl Friend
Nick Ferrari Nick Ferrari
Ed Rue Ed Rue
John Amos ... Biker (as Johnny Amos)
Lavelle Roby
Ted Hayden Ted Hayden
Mario Van Peebles ... Young Sweetback / Kid (as Mario Peebles)
Sonja Dunson Sonja Dunson
Michael Augustus Michael Augustus
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Storyline

Melvin Van Peebles wrote, directed, produced, edited, composed and starred in this powerful and inflammatory attack on White America. After the body of a black man is discovered, Sweetback helps two white 'acquaintances' in the police force to look good by agreeing to go with them to the station as a suspect. But he is forced to go on the run after brutally attacking the two policemen when they arrest and beat up a young black man. Written by David Claydon <dc6212@bristol.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

You bled my Momma--You bled my Poppa--But you won't bleed me. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 March 1973 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Sweet Sweetback See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$15,180,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Yeah See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

No Hollywood studio would back this movie with an all-black cast, so actor/writer/director Melvin Van Peebles financed it himself, aided by a $50,000 loan from Bill Cosby. It became a hit, earning $15 million. See more »

Goofs

The fire truck that appeared at the end of the car explosion was not originally supposed to appear. Due to a permit still not filed, the fire department was unaware and proceeded to appear unannounced. See more »

Quotes

Beetle: Like you gonna have to kinda lay out, stretch out a little while, be real cool. Kinda lay dead. Ol' Beetle'll let you know what's happenin', what's goin' down. You don't have to worry about nothin'. If you need anything, anything at all, brother, just keep the faith in Beetle, ol' Beetle goin' to bring you through, cause this is just a skirmish. You know how the game goes, baby. But you keep the faith in me and you my man. You my favorite man. Can you dig it, baby? Together, you know, maintain....
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the movie a "warning" for the white community appears: "Watch out - a baad assss nigger is coming to collect some dues." See more »

Alternate Versions

The 1998 UK video version was passed fully uncut by the BBFC after receiving a written assurance from Melvin Van Peebles that 18 year old Hubert Scales was playing the role of young Sweetback during the opening sex scene. When the film was re-released on DVD in 2005 it had been revealed to the BBFC that the information was false, and that the role had actually been played by then-14 year old Mario Van Peebles. Owing to the Protection of Children Act 1978 the scene had to be cut and 1 minute 9 secs were removed by the distributors, using black imaging to replace the offensive footage. However the edit was insufficient and a further 5 secs of cuts were requested by the BBFC. See more »

Connections

Featured in Identity Crisis (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

Hoppin John
Written by Melvin Van Peebles
Performed by Melvin Van Peebles featuring Earth Wind & Fire
See more »

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User Reviews

 
From Another Era
27 August 2006 | by momohundSee all my reviews

This movie, when first watched by people from my generation (Gen X), doesn't seem to be very coherent. Something strange and psychedelic from a weird era. However, if you watch this movie and then watch How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass, which is a movie about making Sweet Sweetback, you'll see why this was so damn revolutionary. This was the first time Black America told White America on screen that the days of "kissing up to Shirley Temple's ass" were over. It was a political movie about Black America and even Minority America being tired of whiteness, as well as stating that Black America now has its own identity and society. It took some pretty strong courage to make this move when you consider the time frame that it came out in; the early seventies, a period that saw a shift from "I have a dream" to "By any means necessary." I believe this film opened the doors to allow black artistic media to be critical about white America, society, politics and corruption that generally would have been censored before. Sometimes I wonder if this helped pave the way for people like Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and even Dave Chapelle. My father, a white man, told me that when he went to see this film back in 1971, the audience screamed and cheered during the opening scene when across the screen it read to "all the Brothers and Sisters who are tired of being held down by the Man." Nowadays people wouldn't really respond to that, not even black society I don't think, but back then it could have gotten you lynched, even in 1971. So when people screamed and cheered in the movie theater when they saw this, I think you can imagine how important a film like this must be in film history. No minority had ever dared to say that on the silver screen before.


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