Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971) - full transcript

Melvin Van Peebles wrote, directed, produced, edited, composed and starred in this powerful and inflammatory attack on White America. After the body of a black man is discovered, Sweetback helps two white 'acquaintances' in the police force to look good by agreeing to go with them to the station as a suspect. But he is forced to go on the run after brutally attacking the two policemen when they arrest and beat up a young black man.

Come here

Close the door

Close the door

You ain't at the photographers!

You ain't gettin yo picture taken



Oh God!

Oh God!

Ooooh son

You gotta sweet, you gotta
sweet sweet back!


Oh God!

Oh Son!

Oh Son!


- Besides, we're getting a lot of
static from the chief

about that stiff that was
found yesterday.

You know what I mean?

- We don't know nothin'
about no dead man.

- We know that, but the
commissioner doesn't.

We just want to borrow
one of your boys

for a couple of hours and
take him downtown

to make us look good, official-wise.

- Why me?

I'm short one man already.

George is sick.

- You're our friend.

We knew you'd be willing
to lend a hand.

- Hm.

When did you people start
getting so interested

in black folks...

Dead or alive?!

- It's progress.

- I can't.

I'm short.

I only got two guys working now...

Donald to explain,
Sweetback to train,

and the two of 'em to
trounce and bounce.

We got a nice
understanding, Beetle.

- It's mutual.

Everybody profits.

- Let's keep it that way.

- I'm the good dyke fairy godmother.

Yes, the good dyke fairy godmother.

Why didn't you know that
all good dykes..

Had fairy godmothers?

And I'm here to answer the
prayers of a good dyke.

Yes, the good dyke fairy godmother.

Didn't you know that all good dykes
have fairy godmothers?

And I'm here to answer the
prayers of a good dyke.

Zap, child.


- Why me?

I'm short-handed as it is.

George is sick.

Come on baby, Sweetback.

Get it on, girl!

Clean on down to the bone!

Do it, do it, do it!

You got it, Sweetback!

Get to it, brother!

You're cool, Sweetback!

- Or one of the other boys.

We'll have him back for you
before tomorrow noon.

- Ha-ha, now Sweetback
here's the greatest!

Absolute greatest!

Greatest in the world!

Oh, I know what the hell
you're thinking...


How many times have I
heard that before?

Well, as a special added attraction,

if one of you young ladies
would like to step up

and try this gentleman,

I'm sure you will find him
more than lively.

But, uh, that is to say, uh...


You know, this offer is, um...

Only open to, um...


An ounce
of prevention...

Is worth a pound of sniff in' around.


That's all, folks.

Sweetback gets dressed,

tell him I want to see him.

Go with these gentlemen
for the evening.

See you tomorrow.

That's a hell of
a show you guys put on!

We aren't going
to use the handcuffs.

like we told Beetle.

Just a little eye-wash.


Calling W2,
calling W2.

Read you
loud and clear!

Proceed to Unit One.

Crenshaw, Sector Two.

Back up 10, WA,.

Community disturbance,
possible 415 developing.

- Step on it!


- I got the cuffs.

It's just for appearance sake.

We don't want anyone to
come around here

and find you just sitting here.

Don't go away.

He must
be the ringleader.

Come on, let's
get him out of here

before a crowd forms.

You been stirring up the natives,

Nice night!

- Yeah.

night for a drive.

A little walk,
too, maybe.

All right, why don't you
step out over here?

Get some fresh air.

That's better.

Look at here.

He doesn't look very tough to me,

does he look tough to you? - Nah!

He don't
look too tough.

- Be careful.

Don't mark his face!

- Oh, no, no, we're not
gonna hurt his face.

Al right!

Why sir, I
think he's drunk!

Stand on your feet!

You're a tough man!

Wait a second.

Hey, Sweetback.

I'm sorry, man.

Forgot you two were
attached together.

Let's see if we can't get a
little air between you.

There, you step over here.

That's better, isn't it?

Let's see this dude.

You don't look too tough now!

Stay home at night, and you wouldn't
get into all this...

Trouble, would you?

What's the matter with you,
you drunk?

He looks
like a sniper to me!

Move it!

- Thanks, man.

Where we going?

- Where do you get that We shit?

- Sweetback!


Oh, hang loose, baby.


We gotta chop a skoch, you know?

I'm gonna lay it on ya, hm,

Sweetback, baby!

Looking good, yeah!

You looking good.

Yeah, baby , you gonna
have to be awful cool.

Because what you do, it'll
affect all the rest

of our little ol' employees, and
we can't have that

because we got a good
operation goin' here.

Being in public relations, a
nice little business.

But you don't have to
worry about nothin'.

I'm Beetle.

Me, Beetle, I'm your man.

Everybody got a man.

I'm your man!

It's rough now.

Don't worry about it, baby.

Don't worry about it!

That makes me feel like a new one,

Can you dig it?

A brand new.


But you know what, man?

Like you gonna have to kinda
lay out, you know?

Stretch out a little while,
be real cool...

Kinda lay dead!

Ol' Beetle'll let you know
what's happenin',

what's goin' down.

You don't have to worry
about nothin'.

If you need anything,
anything at all...

Brother, just keep the
faith in Beetle,

ol' Beatle goin' to
bring you through,

because this is just a skirmish,

You know how the game goes, baby!

But you keep the faith in
me and you my man.

You my favorite man!

Can you dig it, baby?

Together, you know?


They can't bother you as long as
Beetle's with you.

Now you go on and hibernate
like that ol' bear

and don't go nowhere.

Can you dig it?




Go out the back door, now.

Speed along and don't let nobody
know where you at.

Let sleeping dogs rest.

Can you dig it, baby?

Ha, ha, yeah!

- You were in the car.

- Were you still in the car,

- How many men were in the ambush?

- How'd they work it?

- You know they're
still unconscious.

- Come on, they were your friends,

- Do you know where Mu-Mu might be?

- We can't figure out what they
used to beat them with.

- Erin, give me your coat.

- Hm?

Sir, I think we
discovered the weapon

and one of the assailants.

- Uh-huh? - Mr. Sweetback.

- Yeah?

- I think we have a new
development in the case.

- Wash your car, mister?

- I'm not bu yin it, now get
away from here!

I'm sorry, sir.

- Proceed.

- He didn't tell us where Mr. Mu-Mu
was or anybody else.

- Proceed!

- No charge if you don't like it!

- Yeah, no charge if you
don't like it!

Can't you just
move away from the car?!

- Oh, yes, I see.

You have the witness
called Sweetback...

And Mr. Sweetback knows the
whereabouts of the suspect,

but that Mr. Sweetback has been
injured in a fall.

Not too badly, I hope.

- Fell down and bruised himself,

- Can we print that, Commissioner?

- Of course.

I have no secrets from the press.

I don't...

Sorry, sir, I don't understand.

- Fine!


You say the witness has given
you the whereabouts

of the suspect?

Too bad the witness has injured
himself in a fall!

- Okay.

Right, sir.

- Proceed!

- Well?

Commissioner says
beat the information

out of the nigger before we get
him to the station.

Wait a minute!

Let's take him some place where we
can really work on him.

units have been alerted

and a search pattern has been
constructed over the area.

Barricades have been set
up immediately

adjoining the streets.

All additional units are now on
the scene assisting.

All other available units
are being deployed

searching the area.

Apprehension, a matter of moments.

Impossible to...

- You sure are Jive!

And don't tell me you came here
looking for Steve.

You know Steve's not here!

He's got two more months to do!

What are you, some kind of Indian
giver or something?

You gave me to him.

I knew you'd be back.

What do you want me to do,
take them off?


- No.

- You too proud to beg?

- No, but you wouldn't take
them off if I did.

- You know every Goddamn thing,
don't you?

Well, first things first!

Where's Sweetback?!

Where's Sweetback?

I don't know
where Sweetback is.

- Where's Sweetback?! -
I don't know.

I don't know where Sweetback is.

I don't know where is Sweetback.

Come on,
you can tell us.

- He seems to be hard of hearing.

- No, uh-uh!

- If he don't talk,
he's going to be!

Where's Sweetback?!

Where is he?!

- Where's Sweetback?

- I don't know where is Sweetback.

- Where is Sweetback?

Come on, boy!

Where is he?! - I don't
know Sweetback is.

- Come on boy, talk! -
Where's Sweetback?

- I don't know where Sweetback is!

- Come on, boy! - Where's Sweetback?

He must be deaf!

- If he isn't, he's going to be.

Where's Sweetback?

- I don't know where he is.

Where is he?

- I don't know where is Sweetback.

I don't know where Sweetback is.

- Come on!

Where is Sweetback?

- I don't know where is Sweetback.

- Tell me!

Where's he at?

Where is he Sweetback?! - I
don't know where he is.

I haven't seen Sweetback.

- Come on, boy. - Sweetback!

- You only got one good ear left,

Do you want to save it?

Do you want to talk?!

This guy is tough.

Both ears are gone...

And he still won't talk!

Oh, Jesus!

Oh, Lord!

Oh, Jesus!

Take him into glory, Lord!

Yes, Lord!

You know his heart.

Oh, Jesus! - He didn't do it!

Oh, Jesus,!

Black misery!

Jesus, save him Lord!

You know his heart!

You know his heart!

You know my brother's heart, Lord.

Save him!


Brothers and sisters,
He is one of us...

Brothers and sisters...

We're here because one of our
brothers is in that box.

But he's not dead.

He's alive and with us!

We can't see him.


We know he's here.

And I'm glad to tell you today

that though he may be in that box...

Oh, Lord!

He's gonna be in
heaven with us.

I can see him now!

Good God Almighty, that's our man!

Yes, my children, he is dead--
- Save him, Lord!

- But he is not dead, he is
with us here today.

Our brother died here today
of an overdose...

An overdose of black misery!

Yes, Lord!

We'll bow our head in prayer.

What are you doing here, Sweetback?

They're looking for you.

You're as hot as little
sister's twat!

Where you goin'?

- I don't want you to
cover for me...

I'm goin' upstairs to the farm.

- To the farm?

You can't hide there!

You can't hide there.

They know all about the farm.

Not only yesterday, the
unwed mothers...

The girls I get you from upstairs.

The Man knows about everything!

Ain't it strange when we die?

Our folks like to rejoice...

But when it comes to the living,
that's it.

The hype I'm la yin' down for
them people inside,

it ain't dangerous.

I'm just selling them a little
bit of happiness.

You know, from the Happy Land.

We all are gonna die,

so all I want 'em to have
IS some peace.

It's my job to make them believe

that they're going to get it
better on the other side.

It's my job!

Mu-Mu, the boy you saved, and
those other kids,

they're la yin' down the
real religion.

They've got it!

You offer pretty good news to me,

slappin' up on some white cops!

Yes, indeed!

I'm gonna say a black Ave
Maria for you.

Like the kids say,
"Later for waiting."

You saved a plant that
they were planning

to pick in the bud!

That's why the Man's down on you.

That's why the Man's down on you!

I'm still gonna say a black
Ave Maria for you.

Right on we
go on KGFJ Soul Radio

with Sandra Z, the newest hit by
Earth, Wind and Fire.

- What does a dead man
need bread for?

So they was whipping a brother.

How many brothers have you whipped?

How many sisters have you slipped?

Life is tough, baby.

A real struggle, from the
womb to the tomb.

Every dollar we make, the
guineas get 20,

the police get 40, and
Goldberg gets 50.

Anybody can tell you that don't
add up to a dollar.

That adds up to a dollar and a dime!

That's why all of us niggers
is so far behind.

And Africa shall
stretch forth her arms!

- Yeah, and bring back
a bloody stump!

- Viva Puerto Rico Libre!

- I haven't forgotten you staked me,

If I had the dough, I
would lay it on you,

but I don't have it.

I wouldn't shuffle or shit you,

I wouldn't do it for nothing.

You can't get out of this town on
wings, wheels or steel.

I wouldn't shuffle or shit you,

Like I said, what does a dead
man need bread for?

Wichita Falls,

ramp seven.

San Diego...

- Just like the railroad station,

Full of pigs!

- Stop!

- Mu-Mu, brothers.

You the guy who got my buddy
in all this trouble?

- Yeah!

Where you brothers goin'?

- This is the best that I
can do for you

on such a short notice.

Buy yourself a last supper.

You're a dead man!

- What have we here?!

Well, looks like we have
a couple of, uh...

Private trespassers, and
you just trespassed

on private property!

And that's a no no!

Let's stomp 'em, man.

Let's stomp 'em!

Let's stomp 'em!

They got to pay, man,
they got to pay!

Hey, Doug, give
'em a chance, man,

this is a democracy!

Look at this, look what
he brought me!

- You ought to save him! - Yeah!

Save him for something
even heavier than you.

For what?

Something sporty.

- Like what? - Sporty?

Well, how about a duel?

- A duel? - A duel?

Sounds out of sight to me!

Yeah, like the
good old days!

- The good old days. - Me!

Me and Hairnet!

No, no, no, no.

Got to throw him back!

He's too little!

That's the one!

Yeah, right on!

I think we should have a good...

Something, we could really lay on
something good to him.

- All right!

The Prez!

Yeah, the Prez!

- Yeah, you're gonna get it!

The Prez gonna come for you.

That's when you and the Prez are
gonna duel!

Right on!

Hey, Prez, we got news for you!

Hey, we got work for you!

We gotta guy here for you to duel.

Your fight, man...

What's it gonna be?!


Hey, how about knives?

Yo, baby, who knows?

Come on man, your choice.

What's it gonna' be?


What's it gonna be, man?

Come on, man.

Come on, baby, what's it gonna be,

What's it gonna be?!

It's your choice, baby!

- Fucking!

- Shut up!






All right.

Come on!

Bet Sambo's so scared he
can't even get it on.

After the Prez does you
in, then we'll do you in!


Ball him in the bad health,

Come on, do it to him, Prez.

Get it on.

Get it, Prez, get it!

- Get it on! - Come on!



Yeah, Sweetback!



You'll be cool here.

We'll fix you up with
help in the morning.

Nobody'll bother you here.

Have a good time.

Come on, let's get the fuck
out of here, come on!

No danger here.

Did they get
'em on the phone?

Yeah, how long will it take?

Away, Sweetback!

- Big Sadie, the Prez, heard her
guys planning this cross...

So she called us.

Look here, I can only
take one of you.

I won't get 10 feet with three
people on this bike.

Now, they told me to
pick up Sweetback.

You Sweetback, ain't you?

- Take him.

- You know what you're doin', man?

- He's our future, Bra

Take him.

Yeah, take
these straps here.

- Sweetback...

- I want them!

I want them, do you hear?!

And I want them now!

God, there could be an
uprising on our hands.

Cop killers and niggers to boot!

No patrol will be safe
in their area.

That's all.

Hey, Rosie, Bill, just a minute.

Ah, look, you guys, I didn't mean
any offense by uh...

By the word I used.

It was just a...

Just a figure of speaking,
you understand?

You know, you guys could be a real
credit to your people

if you brought those guys in.


♪ Come on feet

That's not him!

So what?

Bingo, we got him!

- If things change, the majority

of the people will decide
where and when.

This is a democracy, it's
not communism.

And we're all going to
respect the law

or pay the consequences.

As a citizen, you are
required by law

to aid us in this identification.

Is this Sweetback's body?

- I ain't learned to read lips yet.

- He lost his hearing.

He ain't able to read lips yet.

- Yeah.

- I told you one time I
ain't seen Sweetback.

Never heard of him.

What else did he go by?

- I'm positive, I've never seen him.

- Huh?


Thank you.

- I've been looking for him myself.

- I don't know nothing
about no Sweetback.

- I ain't saw Sweetback!

- I haven't seen him.

- I just keep kids for the county

and make things for the
old people...

Like this.

Isn't that pretty?

Ain't they pretty?

But when the kids get so
grown and so bad...

It takes them away from me.

I might have had a Leroy once,

but I don't rightly remember.

They get so bad and so grown...

I might have had a Leroy once, but I
don't rightly remember.

Make these things for older people

and these kids for the county.

It just takes 'em away from me.

I might have had a Leroy once, but I
can't rightly remember.

And when the kids get bad and older,

they usually take them away from me.

I might have had a Leroy, but I
don't rightly remember.

When the kids get older and bad,

they usually take them away from me.

I might have had a Leroy.

When the kids get older and bad,

they usually take them away from me.

Just takes 'em away from me.

I might have had a Leroy, but I
can't rightly remember.

- Fuck!

- No!

Other people I don't
give a damn about.

I don't know nobody but my
own Goddamn self.

- No, I haven't seen Sweetback.

I haven't seen him in a long time.

Look, I don't, I don't see the cat.

If I never see him, it
won't be too soon

for me, you understand?

You understand, man?

I haven't seen the cat and I
don't want to see him.

You just keep leaning and
leaning and leaning!

Get the fuck off of my back, man!

I'm, I'm clean, man!

Look, I'm clean!

There's nothing there!

Look, look!

When I get pissed off, man,

I will throw a natural-born nigger
fit on you, understand?

So why don't you leave?!

Why don't you leave?!

I am clean.

Look, nothing, nothing.

No place, man, I'm clean.

So stop leaning on me.

I ain't on the street no more,

I ain't in the trade no more.

I just want to be left alone, baby.

So, don't push me!

You're pushing my button, baby!

You're pushing my button!



Leave, motherfucker!

Sweetback, man, shit!

- Fuck the reporters!

I know they're out there!

Now look...

This guy's got one chance.

Right here.

Now let's get him!

- No.

No, I haven't seen him.


Never heard of him.

I haven't, I haven't seen him.

Getting by, that's my main concern.

Thank you, but I haven't seen him.

I haven't seen him.

♪ Work your black
behind to the gums

♪ And you supposed to
Thomas til he done g

- All right, now why'd you run?

- Why'd I run? - Uh-huh.

- I ran because I gave
my word I'd run.

Gave what word?

- I promised to run.

You promised who?


- This guy gave me five dollars to
change duds with him...

Told me if anybody come after me
just, uh, keep on running.

- Was he a black guy?

- Yeah, he's colored.

What'd he look like?

- Like a buddy I used to pal around
with back in Denver.

Now would you say
he was about this tall?

Around this size?

- Yeah, about like that, yeah.

was he doing?


You mean
how he was doing.

Yeah, poorly.

♪ Chicken ain't nothing but a bird

♪ You can't make it on wings, wheels
or steel, Sweetback &

- No child, I mean, officer...

I didn't see a Mr. Sweetback.

- If you see him, send him here.

- I'm a militant queen!

- Won't I do, officer?

"Anybody can tell you

"that don't add up to a dollar,

"that adds up to a
dollar and a dime!"

"Come on, stand up straight, what's
the matter with you?"

"Buy yourself a last supper,
you're a dead man!”

"Your fight, man,
what's it gonna be?

"Your choice, baby!"

- I swear I saw Sweetback.

- Where?

You saw him?

- Over there in that
clump of bushes.

You sure it's him?

- If it ain't Sweetback,

why'd he go in the wrong direction?

No wonder he was going
the wrong way.


- Bark.

He's heading for the border!

He's going to get there
before we do!

He's gonna get across the border
before we can catch him!

He's gonna get there before we do!

Goddamn dogs!

Dogs moving
faster than we are!

Just let me draw a bead
on his black ass...

And he's dead!

He's further
ahead than that!

Just one Goddamn glimpse

of his black ass and he's dead!

- He's gonna make it! -
Let the dogs go!

- No, I won't do it! -
Let the dogs go!

I can't do it, I won't!

Goddamn it!

Do it!

Let the dogs go!

I won't do it!

Turn loose of those dogs!

- Sorry.

No hard feelings, I just
had to catch him.

- Well, what's done is done.

I guess it'll save the
taxpayers some money.

- Listen!

No barking.

- Yep.

Well, I guess there's no sense

of you hanging around here, Rinny.

No use in you missing the fun,

You go get in on it.

Go on, boy!