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Fri, 09.21.1973

The Spook Who Sat by the Door (film) Opens

Promo poster

*On this date in 1973, The Spook Who Sat by the Door (film) opened in American movie theaters. 

This was an action crime–drama film based on the 1969 novel of the same name by Sam Greenlee.  It is both a satire of the American Civil Rights struggle of the late 1960s and a thoughtful attempt to focus on the issue of Black militancy. Dan Freeman, the titular protagonist, is enlisted by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in its elitist espionage program, becoming its token Black. After mastering agency tactics, however, he becomes disillusioned and drops out to train young Chicago blacks as "Freedom Fighters."

As a story of one man's reaction to white ruling-class hypocrisy, the film is loosely autobiographical and personal.  The novel and the film also dramatize the CIA's history of giving training to persons and/or groups who later utilize their specialized intelligence training against the agency.  Directed by Ivan Dixon and co-produced by Dixon and Greenlee, the film starred Lawrence Cook, Paula Kelly, Janet League, J. A. Preston, and David Lemieux. It was mostly shot in Gary, Indiana, because the themes of racial strife did not please Chicago's then-mayor Richard J. Daley. 

The soundtrack was an original score from Herbie Hancock, who grew up in the Greenlee neighborhood.  In 2012, the film was added to the National Film Registry, which annually chooses 25 films that are "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant." 




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