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Set in Cleveland, Ohio during 1968, Uptight is centered upon Tank (Julian Mayfield), an African-American man who previously worked at a local steel mill.  Single, poorly-educated, formerly-convicted and unemployed, his excessive drinking allows him to temporarily escape from his harsh reality.   He is unable to support himself or take care of his lady friend, Laurie (Ruby Dee), and her two young children.  The only thing he seems to have achieved is his life-long friendship with Johnny Wells (Max Julien), which he holds dear.  Johnny is handsome, wise, charismatic and brave.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has been assassinated and there is urban unrest throughout the world, including Cleveland.  Johnny, who has organized his own group of Black revolutionaries, includes Tank in his plans to break into a local armory warehouse to steal weapon for their own revolution. 

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