Nothing But a Man
Screening on Film
With Ivan Dixon, Abbey Lincoln, Julius Harris.
US, 1964, 35mm, black & white, 95 min.
Print source: Cinema Conservancy
Nothing But a Man, Roemer’s first feature film as writer and director (co-produced and shot by Young) was warmly received on release and has continued to grow in stature with each passing generation, and achieving its stature as a classic, it was still twenty years after its opening, when re-released by New Video at Film Forum, that the film began to reach larger audiences. Routinely described as “a landmark,” while accurate, perhaps somewhat reduces its significance and greatness as a work of art, as well as the extraordinary performances by the great Abbey Lincoln, Ivan Dixon, Gloria Foster, Yaphet Kotto and Julius Harris. As a depiction of Black American life, it was unprecedented, rightfully lauded for decades, and remains Roemer’s most widely known work. Even so, it has been in and out of circulation over the years, most recently re-released in 2012 by Cinema Conservancy from a Library of Congress preservation which premiered at the New York Film Festival. Currently out of print on DVD (a new restoration and Blu-ray release are forthcoming in 2023). Nothing But a Man, like all of Roemer’s films following, allows for generational discovery, because unlike the majority of their contemporary work, the films simply do not date. – excerpted from introduction by Jake Perlin