Supposedly they are remaking this 1970s Blaxploitation movie, at least according to Balladeer’s Blog readers who requested I review it. As it turns out I did review it in 2012, so here it is again.

For the link to that review – an article where I reviewed several other Blaxploitation films as well, click HERE  

402px-spook_who_sat_by_the_door_1973THE SPOOK WHO SAT BY THE DOOR (1973) – The title of this explosive film, based on the controversial novel by Sam Greenlee, plays on the old double meanings of the slang expression “spook”. While spook could be used as a derogatory term for a black person it could also refer to a secret agent.

The story’s hero, played by Lawrence Cook, is an African American working in the domestic offices of the Central Intelligence Agency. While outwardly an efficient and capable paper pusher he inwardly regards himself as an undercover operative for his own race, infiltrating the white intelligence establishment.

After  five years of learning all he can via secretly reading CIA operations files our protagonist, significantly named Dan Freeman, decides to launch a covert operation of his own to destroy the white power structure and elevate his people to positions of authority.

Resigning from the CIA, he returns to his native Chicago and uses classic intelligence techniques to establish clandestine cells staffed by fellow African Americans. Over time his subversive campaign utilizes violence and infiltration of local government agencies in a spectacularly successful way. Freeman next extends his “cell” approach to other major cities with the same success. 

Eventually the day arrives when his expanding organization is far- reaching enough that Freeman can abandon clandestine behavior and function more openly, launching coordinated armed uprisings that succeed in seizing entire portions of the United  States as sovereign African American territory. These scattered territories proceed to wage a larger and larger war against the rest of the United States until Freeman gets what he wants. 

This movie is very powerful and only its low budget prevents it from having the full impact it might have had. The film’s efforts at verisimilitude are so effective that for some audiences seeing it in 1973 it must have felt like a cinematic version of Orson Welles’ legendary War of the Worlds radio broadcast from the 1930s. A particularly nice touch is the covert radio operator calling himself Uncle Tom with undisguised irony as he broadcasts propaganda and coded messages to Freeman’s operatives around the country. 

Lawrence Cook turns in the performance of a lifetime as Freeman, playing things low- key and intense rather than affecting grandiose “man with a vision” posturing. Sam Greenlee wrote the screenplay, adapted from his 1969 novel and the director of this thought- provoking film was none other than Ivan Dixon, better known as Kinch, the black GI on Hogan’s Heroes.


© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.




Filed under Bad and weird movies, Blaxploitation


  1. Bert

    Brutal fictional take! Like you said, almost like war for the worlds.

  2. terrietta h blair

    the fact that the movie deals with the right now of law enforcement killing our young black man is relevant and just the whole movie projects how the half and have nots of black americans still trying to find there in the white still shows that we will always have us against each other and uniting. the movie definitely shows the noose of oppression upon us. Our uprising scares this white society. we cant too much to them we become dangerous.Same as it ever was 1973 2022 no difference.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s