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Friday, March 21, 2008

Film: Actor / Director Ivan Dixon Dies

Ivan Dixon was best known to the public for his role on the TV show Hogan's Heroes as radioman Sergeant Kinchloe, adept at spoofing the German voices of the POW camp's overseers.
Before Hogan's though he starred in one of the pioneer films of American independent cinema, the movingly brilliant and ahead-of-it's time 1964 drama Nothing but a Man.

The film, shot on a shoestring budget in southern New Jersey, took place in the deep south and centered on Dixon's character, a man who refused to be seen as anything but an equal. The performance is smolderingly intense and the issues it raised as the Civil Rights movement was gaining strength contributed to its unearned obscurity. Here's a clip (if you can't see this and you are viewing this on another site, click the link back to our site to enjoy. If you are here and the vid doesn't play, hit refresh).

After Heroes Dixon did extensive directing work in film and television. he helmed episodes of shows like Rockford Files and Magnum P.I. His film work included the blaxploitation classic Trouble Man which spawned a killer Marvin Gaye soundtrack, and his masterpiece The Spook Who Sat by The Door.

The Spook Who Sat by The Door was a wild would-be blaxploitation fantasia that plays as an early 70s take on some of the central ideas in Nothing but a Man. Where his character in the earlier film is outwardly defiant in his insistence on equal treatment, the lead in the latter film is a man who makes it as the first black CIA agent through clever subservience. He then uses his training to radicalize black gangs to take over and bring down the white system of control. A cult classic. Here's the trailer:

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