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Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Peaceful Journey.....

I hate that I am late on this.

While reading my blogging buddy Seth Fine's site "Freshplays", I saw that Ivan Dixon died. Did anyone in the media pay tribute to that, or am I just that disconnected? (I am on an extended stay in the south right now).

I am saddened by his passing for a few reasons. One, I never felt like he was able to show the world what he was capable of as an actor, tho he had some successes behind the camera. Two, I knew his daughter Doris while working at the studio That Will Henceforth Remain Unnamed (TWHRU). She was intelligent and strong in spirit like her father.

And three, most importantly, he was in one of my favorite films of all time---"Nothing But A Man".

Damn. If there was ever a genuine film made about the realities and complexities of Black male/female relationships, this is it. He co-starred in it with jazz great Abbey Lincoln. Abbey always had this weird way of talking to me---she spoke with kind of a clench to her jaw and without moving her lips much, but she always realistically depicted a Black women's trials in love--naturally, simply, and unaffected.

In "Nothing But A Man" Ivan and Abbey's relationship starts out like most of ours do; physical attraction, followed by charm, fun, and usually great sex. That phase lasts until you get to know the other person more deeply, and that's when the challenges start.

This film is mostly about those challenges, and the pain and hurt that is on both sides, whether that person shows it or outwardly not. And if you as a couple can come through the challenges, pain, and hurt, what's waiting on the other side is even more beautiful than the good times in the beginning. Your love is real.

I read recently that Nothing But A Man was Malcolm X's favorite film, and that did everything to solidify my love and admiration for it. Yes, Ivan Dixon was on "Hogan's Heroes", but this movie is how I'll always remember him. A peaceful journey to him and his family.

Here is a pretty good synopsis someone wrote on the film from IMDB:

I thoroughly enjoyed "Nothing But a Man." Unlike other films before it, it shows black men and casts them in lead roles instead of sticking them in white circles. It is an excellent and faithful depiction of problems that blacks faced, such as marital, familial, and social dilemmas. This film also focuses on black masculinity and what being a black man is about, and it highlights the struggle and contrast of being free and easy and not tied down as opposed to being married and struggling for one's dignity. The film itself is great for its neorealistic style. It is like a documentary in many respects. It is black & white, gritty, and has no soundtracks running (save the Motown and the gospel). Unlike the race films of Micheaux and Williams who used this documentary-style depiction to push their messages, Roemer fearlessly shows the brutality and bleakness of African-American life, with an ending reminiscent of Orwell's 1984. I loved this movie. It is honest, non-patronizing, and accurate.

trivia: ivan was in "a patch of blue" and the original movie version of "a raisin in the sun". he also directed the classics "the spook who sat by the door" and "trouble man"


Wanda said...

Its not surprising you didn't hear it. The only place I saw it mentioned was on MSN. No blurbs on the news, radio, etc.

coloredgirlswhohaveconsidered said...

What a beautiful post, I pray that some of your younger readers take the initiative and go a step further and rent or buy 'Nothing But A Man'...

Invisible Woman said...

@wanda: that makes my heart sad...he deserved more than that

@coloredgirls: thanks, sis--good to see you--I missed your comments

I think everybody, black and non-black, should see this movie, Wattstax, and When We Were Kings.

Shelia said...

Awww man, Ivan Dixon was a serious brotha. Unfortunately, given the time that he came along, he was relegated to more character than leading role (as were and are most Black people).

Nonetheless, he was powerful and committed to whatever role he played.

And no, I haven't seen or heard a thing about his death. Granted, I haven't been online as much lately, but still. You would think it would have been covered somewhere mainstream.

Thank for sharing the info IW.

hottnikz said...

I saw it on a news ticker on one of the cable stations, and I questioned to myself "I know the name, was he the black guy from Hogan's Heroes?" but of course that was never answered (until now) because there was no more mention of it. Thanks for the knowledge.

hottnikz said...

BTW, hi, sorry I haven't been around that much!

Thembi said...

NO info on him in the media at all, and don't forget him in Car Wash.

Invisible Woman said...

@Shelia: 'Nonetheless, he was powerful and committed to whatever role he played.' Girl, that is the truth.

They should've given him props. It wasn't right.

@hottnikz: Always glad to see you whenever you come around...I gotta get over to your spots too!

@Thembi: I probably naively thought everyone would remember him in that one, but not the other 2 I mentioned. At least I hope they remembered.

No mention at all in the media is so tired.

Jackie said...

Good post.
Your blog is always full of info. Thanks so much.

Invisible Woman said...

thanks jackie; hope to see you often :-)

Jennifer said...

Excuse my ignorance for I am not familiar with the film but I will be buying it! And, I am a fan of the movie, A Patch of Blue which is one of my absolute favorite movies. I was unaware of Ivan Dixon's passing.

Thank you for keeping us informed sis!!