The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Spook Who Sat by the Door1973

The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Spook Who Sat by the Door Photos

Movie Info

Based on a novel by Sam Greenlee, The Spook Who Sat by the Door chronicles the exploits of a CIA agent, the only black man in the agency. Tired of being treated as a human showcase for affirmative action, he quits and heads for the inner city where he begins forming an army of "freedom fighters" determined to overthrow the government and vanquish the white oppressors. To do so, they steal a bunch of high-tech weapons from the National Guard and bloody mayhem ensues.


Lawrence Cook
as Dan Freeman
Paula Kelly
as Dahomey Queen
Elaine Aiken
as Mrs. Hennington
Don Blakely
as Stud Davis
Paul Butler
as Do-Daddy Dean
Larry Cook
as Dan Freeman
David Lemieux
as Pretty Willie
Byron Morrow
as General
Jack Aaron
as Carstairs
Joseph Mascolo
as Senator Hennington
Bob Hill
as Calhoun
Martin Golar
as Perkins
Jeff Hamilton
as Policeman
Tom Alderman
as Security Officer
Stephen Ferry II
as Boy Guardsman
Frank Lesley
as Commentator
Audrey Stevenson
as Mrs. Duncan
Sidney Eden
as Inspector
Cora Williams
as Woman #1
Doug Johnson
as Trainee #1
Mark Williams
as Trainee #3
Robert Franklin
as Trainee #5
Jim Heard
as Trainee #7
Lenard Norris
as Trainee #2
Walter Lowe
as Trainee #4
Harold Harris
as Trainee #6
Kenneth Lee Orme
as Trainee #8
Don Greenlee
as Trainee #9
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Critic Reviews for The Spook Who Sat by the Door

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (2)

It is such a mixture of passion, humor, hindsight, prophecy, prejudice and reaction that the fact that it's not a very well-made movie, and is seldom convincing as melodrama, is almost beside the point.

May 9, 2005 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…

Possibly the most radical of the blaxploitation films of the 70s, this movie was an overnight success when released in 1973, then was abruptly taken out of distribution for reasons still not entirely clear.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Unabashedly bigoted, stridently hateful, it wants to be incendiary and controversial, but only manages thuggish and dull.

April 28, 2009 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

So fiery, smart and entertaining that the lack of finesse hardly matters.

December 6, 2005 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

...a document of social revolt that still bristles with a timely, and timeless, impression of righteousness and intelligence.

November 7, 2005 | Rating: B | Full Review…

One of the few uncompromised representations of black armed resistance in the United States.

November 19, 2004

Audience Reviews for The Spook Who Sat by the Door


One of the most radical blaxsplotation films I've ever seen.

Ken Stachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

I took the message of self determination and exploiting the exploitative system to take skills and knowledge back to ones own community. Inspiring. Using counter terrorism tactics to teach the street gangs guerrilla warfare is just an example of this but it's handled well in the movie. I like that they don't throw in a tacky ending but leave it out there. The scenes with Dan training in the CIA are confusing at first because you don't quite know where the movie is going and it did seem a little too easy for him to convince a street gang to follow him into urban revolution but that aside the sub plots like the friend who turns him in and the middle class black woman of his being scared by the revolutionary blacks make for a brilliant film.

Cassandra Maples
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

A difficult film, both for someone to make in the 70's, and for a modern audience to swallow, but both Film and Novel take their subject matter seriously. This movie took guts. The militant uprising themes are portrayed through character development, and by the end you are forced to analyze how far the protagonist has progressed, or deluded himself, depending on your point of view. Thankfully, the movie leaves it up to the viewer. To pigeonhole this film as mere propaganda is a bit harsh, as it tells a story not with ideology or metaphor but a well-rounded protagonist, and you are left free to interpret how the film ends. Yet, the film itself is nothing but a one-trick pony, and cannot rely on gutsy thematic content alone, and the supporting cast is blatantly two-dimensional, the plot, while unique in its setting, is sub-par when you strip away its thematic overtones. The films greatness is dependent on the arguments and thoughts it provokes once it is over, and not on its cinematic merit alone. The film is trapped in Schroedinger's box, but is well worth the time to examine for yourself, and see what emerges.

Daniel Hetteix
Daniel Hetteix

Super Reviewer

The Spook Who Sat by the Door Quotes

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