Dir. Michael Roemer, 1964, 92 min.
A landmark independent film, Nothing but a Man is the first dramatic story featuring a largely black cast created for an integrated audience (the work of black filmmakers such as Oscar Micheaux was intended for audiences who patronized black-only theaters). White filmmakers Michael Roemer and Robert M. Young traveled through the South in 1962 in search of ideas for a fiction feature set during the growing turbulence of the civil rights era. Their story, based in Alabama but shot in southern New Jersey, is only tangentially related to the movement toward equality. Duff, an itinerant black railroad laborer (Ivan Dixon), romances and marries Josie, a small-town preacher's daughter (Abbey Lincoln). Duff insists on being treated with respect, but his stance is personal rather than political. After he settles down in the town with Josie, he comes up against white bosses who want to make sure he knows his place and black men such as Josie's father who don't want to rock the boat for fear of losing what little advantage they have. Duff's relationship with his own father, Julius Harris, a broken-down drunk living in Birmingham, teaches him valuable lessons about dignity and self-worth. ~Tom Wiener, All Movie Guide