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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

Directed by Melvin Van Peebles
USA 1971


After saving a Black Panther from some racist cops, a black prostitute goes on the run from "the man" with the help of the ghetto community and some disillusioned Hells Angels.

Melvin Van Peebles wrote, directed, produced, edited, composed and starred in this powerful and inflammatory attack on White America. After the body of a black man is discovered, Sweetback helps two white `acquaintances' in the police force to look good by agreeing to go with them to the station as a suspect. But he is forced to go on the run after brutally attacking the two policemen when they arrest and beat up a young black man.


NOTE: Melvin Van Peebles contracted gonorrhea from one of the actresses during filming of one of the sex scenes in the movie. He applied for compensation from the Directors Guild because he "got hurt on the job" and used the money to buy more film.



Theatrical Release: April 23rd, 1971

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DVD Review: BFI - Region 2 - PAL

DVD Box Cover


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Distribution BFI  Video - Region 2 - PAL

NTSC edition:



Runtime 1:37:04
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.19 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English (Hoh), None

Release Information:
Studio: BFI  Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Featurette: 'The Reel Deal' (21:31)
• Melvin Van Peebles bio (text screen)
• 8-page liner notes essays by Kodwo Eshun, S. Craig Watkins + William R Grant IV

DVD Release Date: November 28th, 2005

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 15




A very desirable, if surprising, film choice for BFI to release on DVD. Unfortunately the transfer is non-progressive and exhibits excessive combing throughout all motion sequences. Conveniently released on digital in the UK by BFI with son Mario Van Peebles' docu-drama  - How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass (aka Baadasssss!). I have to admit this cinema has its own unique, and at times humorous. charm. There is minor damage to the film and it shows the expected weaknesses of such a limited budget, but overall that kind of imperfect presentation (most likely due to the original elements) adds to its clandestine pioneering creation appeal. The featurette and essays are of BFI's usual excellent quality. I recommend this film as I, personally, have never seen anything like it. Quite fascinating to see such strong anti-establishment roots.

NOTE: We may one day compare this to the NTSC edition that we suspect may be of similar image quality but we will find out positively whether it has the opening sex sequences removed (as this does - see onscreen notice below).

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus



Pre-film notices


Subtitle Sample


NOTE: visible 'combing' in center characters teeth




Screen Captures














DVD Box Cover


CLICK to order from:


Distribution BFI  Video - Region 2 - PAL

NTSC edition:




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