Sweet Sweetback's Baadassss Song
From The Deuce
Also Known As
- How To Get The Man's Foot Outta Your Ass
- The Film that THE MAN doesn't want you to see!
- Rated X by an all white jury
- Dedicated to all the Brothers and Sisters who have had enough of the Man
- Sweet Sweetback will never die a natural death.
- You bled my Momma--You bled my Poppa--But you won't bleed me.
- Released in 1971
- Running Time: 97 Min.
- Production Co: Yeah
- Distribution Co: Cinemation Industries (1971) (USA) (theatrical) | New World Pictures (1974) (USA) (theatrical) (re-release)
Cast and Crew
- Directed by Melvin Van Peebles
- Written by Melvin Van Peebles
- Starring Melvin Van Peebles, Simon Chuckster, Hubert Scales, John Dullaghan, West Gale, Niva Rochelle
- Produced by Jerry Gross, Melvin Van Peebles
- Original Music by Earth Wind & Fire, Melvin Van Peebles
- Cinematography by Robert Maxwell
- Film Editing by Melvin Van Peebles
Sweet Sweetback might be what you'd get if Fellini had made a Blaxploitation film. By mixing psychadelic visual imagery and a pulsing soul and funk score, Melvin Van Peebles gives us an exciting, raw cinematic experience from the mind of a black man. This isnt white washed for your viewing pleasure! The film begins with a young Sweetback (Mario Van Peebles) "losing his cherry" to a prostitute. Now THATS an opening!!
Sweetback (Melvin Van Peebles) is a hustler and sex performance artist who gets picked up by the cops after his nightly sex show. The cops pick up another man as well and they cuff Sweetback and him together. They bring them to a secluded area and they start beating the other detainee, but Sweetback is still cuffed to him, so they uncuff him. While theyre beating the man, Sweetback watches, but then he snaps and he hits the cops with his handcuff chain, over and over. As he does this, we see the blood appear on the chain.
Sweetback's now on the run from the cops. Melvin Van Peebles directs the film so we not only get the story, but we get an artistic, often surreal glimpse into Sweetback's world. It sort of reminded me a little of Easy Rider, the way it was shot. Along the way we meet many of Sweetback's friends and aquaintances. In another memorable scene, Sweetback's friend gets grilled by the cops in a cruel fashion. They shoot their guns off near his ears so he goes deaf. They scream: "WHERES SWEETBACK?!" As they fire their guns, the screen changes color and we can hear the whistle just as if we are losing our hearing with him.
Sweetback seems to move through the film like a sort of soul brother Mercury. He almost isnt just a character in the film, he represents the struggles of black men and women throughout American history. He's every oppressed human being thats had to stand up for doing something they felt was right. The way Melvin Van Peebles mixes sex and violence, you can see that this is the truth and its coming from the heart. Its not trying to be soft and nice, its a projection about what really goes on in Black people's lives. Their religion, their relationships are all interrupted by constant paranoia.
Later in the film, Sweetback gets confronted by some bikers and they make him decide what he wants to do to get outta the situation. Sweetback thinks for a second and says: "Fuckin", after all thats what hes best at. The next sequence is one of the most graphic sex scenes in the film as Sweetback and a white biker chick get it on in front of the biker crowd. Sweetback does his thing and we hear the white biker chick scream his name in satisfaction.
In the last scenes of the film, Sweetback is wounded from being shot by a cop. He walks through the desert like a gunfighter in the Old West. He pisses on some sand and presses the wet sand on his wound. He also eats a lizard, which is pretty nasty to watch. He slowly recovers, moving towards freedom. The end titles come up declaring that "Sweetback is coming back so WATCH OUT!" Note: Look for an early cameo by John Amos, who later went on to star in the 1970s TV series Good Times and in several motion pictures including Lock Up and Die Hard 2.
Sweet Sweetback's Baadasss Song is an original and truly groundbreaking work of cinema. Melvin Van Peebles essentially made one of the first solely independent Black counter-culture films. Highly recommended!
Reviewed by Popeye Pete - 5/26/07