Nothing But A Man is one of the great hidden gems of American independent cinema. It tells the simple story of a man and woman in love, trying to endure the hardships of life as a "coloured" in Mississippi in the early `60s. Told with restraint, compassion and lovely observation, the film is also beautifully acted and gloriously shot.
The film's ultimate power is to show you that racism is not just about blatant verbal or physical abuse. The cuts that run the deepest have to do with the role to which black people were expected to succumb in order to avoid being considered "trouble". The film is infused with quiet outrage but also with an overwhelming sense of dignity. Under all of this, is lovely and very human relationship which acts as the heart and soul of the film.
Ivan Dixon manages to balance all of this impeccably in the lead role, making it impossible not to identify with him, even when we don't like him. Abbey Lincoln is simply adorable as his wife, who brings a different kind of quiet pathos to the story. Look out for a very early appearance by the great Yaphet Kotto, as well as supporting roles from Julius Harris and Gloria Foster.
The DVD itself is a glorious thing. The picture quality is simply stunning and the sound is fine. There is absolutely nothing in the way of extra features, but the quality of the movie and the presentation more than justify picking this up.