Melvin Van Peebles

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song

A landmark of Black and American independent cinema that would send shock waves through the culture, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song was Melvin Van Peebles’s second feature film, after he walked away from a contract with Columbia in order to make his next film on his own terms. Acting as producer, director, writer, composer, editor, and star, Van Peebles created the prototype for what Hollywood would eventually co-opt and make into the blaxploitation hero: a taciturn, perpetually blank-faced performer in a sex show, who, when he’s pushed too far by a pair of racist cops looking to frame him for a crime he didn’t commit, goes on the run through a lawless underground of bikers, revolutionaries, sex workers, and hippies in a kill-or-be-killed quest for liberation from white oppression. Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song’s incendiary politics are matched by Van Peebles’s revolutionary style, in which jagged jump cuts, kaleidoscopic superimpositions, and psychedelic sound design come together in a sustained howl of rage and defiance.

Film Info

  • United States
  • 1971
  • 97 minutes
  • Color
  • 1.85:1
  • English
  • Spine #1095

Available In

Collector's Set

Melvin Van Peebles: Essential Films

Melvin Van Peebles: Essential Films

Blu-ray Box Set

5 Discs


Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song
Melvin Van Peebles
Simon Chuckster
Hubert Scales
Moo Moo
John Dullaghan
Mario Van Peebles
Sweetback, age ten
Rhetta Hughes
Old girlfriend
Johnny Amos
Megan Van Peebles
Melvin Van Peebles
Written by
Melvin Van Peebles
Camera operators
Bob Maxwell
Bob Maxwell
José Garcia
Production manager
Clyde Houston
Assistant director
Clyde Houston
Makeup supervisor
Nora Maxwell
Assistant editor
Jeremy Hoenack
Clark Will
Special effects
Cliff Wenger
Second unit director
José Garcia
Sound editors
John Newman
Luke Wolfram
Orchestra and orchestrations
Earth, Wind and Fire