Author and Poet Sam Greenlee Dead at 83

Posted on May 26, 2014

The Washington Post reports that Sam Greenlee, author of The Spook That Sat By the Door has died at the age of 83 in Chicago. Greenlee wrote his novel in 1969 and later turned it into a film by the same name in 1973 which was directed by Ivan Dixon (Hogan's Heroes).

The film is considered the beginning of the blaxploitation film era and was quite controversial. It was pulled from theaters and became a cult classic. Only recently has it been returned to circulation. It is now taught as part of African American film studies classes.

Greenlee wrote the novel about a black CIA agent who gets hired, but then sidelined to a desk. While there, he learns everything he can about weapons, guerrilla warfare, operations and running a revolution. He takes his knowledge to Chicago where he organizes a black nationalist movement. The film did not get great reviews for its script or direction, but it did get praised for its raw power and passionate presentation of prevailing black nationalist movement thought. In 2013, the film was listed in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as one of the U.S.' "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant films."

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