The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973)

Rated PG

Based on the 1969 novel by Sam E. Greenlee, this film is centered upon protagonist Dan Freeman (Lawrence Cook), the first African-American to be accepted into the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  Set primarily in Chicago during the late 1960s and early 1970s, the reason for Freeman’s hire was to deflect the charge of Senator Hennington (Joseph Mascolo) that the CIA is racially discriminatory.  This accusation was levied by the White, liberal politician because he wanted to gain his state’s Black vote.

Hennington’s accusation leads to his successful re-election and the intelligence agency has to begin recruiting African-Americans for training as case officers.  Freeman, a graduate of Michigan State University and a Korean War veteran, earns the highest marks in his recruitment class.  An expert in judo and hand-to-hand combat, Freeman seems to be the best candidate for entry into the CIA. 

Despite his expertise and training, Freeman is made Section Chief of the Top-Secret Reproductions Center, which basically means he is in charge of the copy machine.  Freeman is cognizant that his hire is merely token for the CIA in order to make the agency appear as if they are committed to racial integration and social progress.  He is placed “on display” at the front of the federal agency’s headquarters and as a spokesperson at social and community events throughout the nation’s capital so that all may see the efforts of the CIA.

After five years of working at the Central Intelligence Agency, he quietly resigns, leaving Washington D.C. to return to his native city, Chicago.  There, Freeman works to provide social services to Blacks.  However, he has other reasons and accompanying plans for his outreach because he has a secret.

For greater enlightenment...