Ivan Dixon, Abbey Lincoln Nothing But a Man New Video Group 1964/2005
Beautifully shot in crisp black and white with especially excellent close-ups (thanks to co-producer/ co-writer/and cinematographer Robert Young), this 40-year old classic stars the young beautiful Abbey Lincoln (wigged over her black nationalist Afro of the time) as an educated (non-singing) grade school teacher named Josie, the daughter of a small Southern town minister. Ivan Dixon (taking the role Sidney Poitier originally turned down) plays the part of her hard-working newly-wed husband Duff Anderson, who, while maintaining his Black pride, experiences first-hand the desperation-inducing racial and economic conditions of what was the height of the civil rights movement (for instance, his father - played by Julius Harris - basically drank himself to death). The depiction of the hot segregated South with its cotton fields and church scenes are extraordinarily captured both in picture and sound ("Little" Stevie Wonder on harmonica and Mary Wells are soundtrack features) and the message at the end of the movie, though emotional, is uplifting: "It ain't going to be easy... [but] I feel free inside!" says Dixon while in a clenching hug with Lincoln in tears.
The movie is from a time when real messages weren't watered down or convoluted with special effects, over-acting from star-studded casts, weak plots or loud music. Its documentary-like success has made it into one of the true classic African-American movies of all time. Its 40th Anniversary DVD release is cause to celebrate, not only for the African-American community but for society as a whole. The inspirational story proves that love not only conquers all, but along with family is one of the few universal helps through hard times. Such was the case then as it is now.
Rating: Not Rated Running Time: 92 Minutes Additional Information: Anniversary Edition; Special Edition Additional Features: Text/Photo Galleries, "Case and Crew: 40 Years Later," "Portrait of Abbey"