Arlecchino Cinema > 15:00


Michael Roemer


Sunday 25/06/2023


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Newly arrived from England, via Germany (and via Kindertransport),  to the United States to begin his education at Harvard, Roemer immediately observed the stark racial discrimination against Black Americans and felt bleak echoes of his still vivid experience as a Jew who barely escaped the Third Reich. Filmed together with Harvard classmate Robert Young who brought a verité flair to his work as cinematographer, Nothing but a Man was inspired by Roemer’s feeling and experience as an outsider and was, moreover, meant to evoke the insidious everyday experience of racism in the USA, now seen through the eyes of  a Black man seeking work and a new start in his life and relationship with his abusive, alcoholic father.
Roemer wanted to film in the South but was warned against the discrimination and obstacles that he would inevitably face – thus, although the film is set in Alabama, it was, in fact, filmed in New Jersey. The film’s extraordinary cast includes legendary singer Abbey Lincoln and Ivan Dixon in what both would later name as their greatest screen roles. Indeed, their performances capture the febrile and tender flames of early love with an almost startling authenticity.
Nothing but a Man is remarkable for its ability to frankly address one of the still most urgent and complex issues facing American society and so much of the world, without ever overstating its intentions or reducing its characters to mere symbolic vehicles. Indeed, the film is a model for the profound emotional intelligence and nuance that makes its narrative sing true and always surprise, even upon multiple viewings. To see Ivan Dixon grappling with the ever more insidious, racist affronts that are his every day, as well as his own contradictory demons, is to have a lucid insight into the hard struggle of so many whose dreams are hindered by the terrible reign of white supremacy that continues to define injustice in both the US and Europe.

Haden Guest

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Michael Roemer, Robert M. Young. F.: Robert M. Young. M.: Luke Bennett. Mus.: Mary Wells, The Gospel Stars, Martha and the Vandellas, The Miracles, Eddie Holland, Brian Holland, Littie Stevie Wonder, The Marvelettes, Wilbur Kirk. Int.: Ivan Dixon (Duff Anderson), Abbey Lincoln (Josie Dawson), Gloria Foster (Lee), Julius Harris (Will Anderson), Martin Priest (autista), Leonard Parker (Frankie), Yaphet Kotto (Jocko), Stanley Greene (il reverendo Dawson), Helen Lounck (Effie Simms), Helene Arrindell (Doris). Prod.: Robert M. Young, Michael Roemer, Robert Rubin per Duart Film Laboratories. 35mm. Bn.