Directed by Ivan Dixon from Sam Greenlee’s adaptation (with Melvin Clay) of his 1969 novel, THE SPOOK WHO SAT BY THE DOOR (1973) has been selected by Librarian of Congress James Billington as one of 25 titles named to the National Film Registry in 2012.  “Established by Congress in 1989, the National Film Registry spotlights the importance of preserving America’s unparalleled film heritage,” said Billington. “These films are not selected as the ‘best’ American films of all time, but rather as works of enduring importance to American culture. They reflect who we are as a people and as a nation.”

Decades after its abrupt yank from distribution in the midst of a successful theatrical run, THE SPOOK was re-released in 2004 through the efforts of Tim Reid, working from a negative hidden by Dixon under a fake title.  In 2010, directors Christine Acham and Clifford Ward produced an award-winning documentary, INFILTRATING HOLLYWOOD: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SPOOK WHO SAT BY THE DOOR, about the production, distribution, and legacy of the film.   Also in 2010, BFC/A featured the film and guest Sam Greenlee as part of the two-day symposium, Cinematic Representations of Racial Conflict in “Real Time”, which considered it alongside 1964’s NOTHING BUT A MAN (starring Ivan Dixon) for their modes of political address and mobilization in “real time” during a period of intense racial conflict in the United States.

The Spook Who Sat by the Door

A book-length critical study of THE SPOOK WHO SAT BY THE DOOR will be among the first volumes in the forthcoming BFC/A book series, Studies of Cinema in the Black Diaspora, beginning publication in 2013 through IU Press.  Other titles to be featured include Registry selections NOTHING BUT A MAN, DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST, and KILLER OF SHEEP.

Greenlee at BFC/A


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