As I watched the below BFI-cut trailer for Nothing But A Man, I realized that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen an official trailer for the film. We’ve certainly written about it a few times on this blog over the last 4 years, and with each post, I’ve only been able to find clips from the film – clips usually on YouTube, that often disappear soon after I post them, likely due to rights issues.
But I believe that this is the first trailer for Nothing But A Man that these eyes have seen.
And you should’ve seen the smile on my face as I watched it. It’s a must-see classic; A rare, rare gem of its time, and I’d say still very much is a rarity today, almost 50 years after it was initially released. That should not only tell you how good it is, but also how far what we call black cinema has come since then – especially when it comes to films that depict mature relationships between black people, as well as the daily peaks and valleys of simply living, unadorned, and what it means to be nothing but a man – especially an everyday black man in America, with pride.
But the film still feels very fresh today, and I think will continue to charm, as more and more discover it.
If you’ve never seen Nothing But A Man, and you live in the UK, you should know that the BFI (British Film Institute), has announced a UK theatrical premiere of the film (that’s right, it’s never had a UK theatrical run, until now).
And for those whom this applies, you’re in for a treat, because, not only will you get to see the film for the first time, but you’ll get to do so on the big screen, via a glorious NEW 35MM PRINT.
The BFI Southbank will run the film for 2 weeks, starting on September 27 through October 10, so take advantage of this opportunity if you can. It’s a rare chance to see this on the big screen.
A film that was added to the National Registry in 1993, and is considered a classic and milestone of not just black cinema, but cinema overall; a powerful depiction of black life in 1960s southern USA, the film stars Ivan Dixon in one of his earliest roles, years before he stepped behind the camera to produce and direct another seminal piece of black cinema, 1973’s The Spook Who Sat By The Door; and a young Abbey Lincoln in what was really her first starring role, and only her second feature film;. Both deliver wonderfully nuanced performances in this beautifully-shot drama.
It also features Gloria Foster and Moses Gun, early in their careers.
And then there’s that vintage Motown soundtrack, featuring Motown stars like Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells, Martha and the Vandellas, The Miracles, and The Marvelettes.
Nothing But A Man was written, directed and produced by Michael Roemer and Robert Young, two Jewish filmmakers with documentary and cinema verité backgrounds, which I think comes through in the film, as you will see.
Most of it was actually shot in New Jersey and not in the south, where the story is set. However, it’s worth noting that the production team earnestly researched southern life and Jim Crow custom, reportedly staying with Black families throughout the South for an entire year before production began.
UK readers, for ticket information, click HERE, where you’ll find all the days and times the film is scheduled to screen.
The brand new BFI-cut trailer (released just today) follows below: