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An iconoclastic work of American political cinema whose polemical power has only grown with time, Ivan Dixon’s second and final feature, an adaptation of Sam Greenlee’s 1969 novel of the same title, endures as an incisive portrayal of Black militant struggle in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement and the convulsive 1960s. Lawrence Cook stars as Dan Freeman, a secret Black nationalist who becomes the first Black member of the CIA; his deep state colleagues are none the wiser to the fact that Freeman is playing them, exploiting his own tokenization to learn the guerrilla tactics he’ll need to take his real fight to the next level. By turns a satire and a serious political thriller, The Spook Who Sat By the Door is a visionary film of ideas whose urgency and precision feel utterly contemporary.
Watch the Ephraim Asili Introduction below.