Dutchman is a literal filming of Le Roi Jones’ 1964 off-Broadway play, pitting a white slut against a middle-class Negro youth who is, in turn, seduced, disgraced and killed. Excellent direction and performances are enhanced by realistically grim production values.
Producer Gene Persson casts wife Shirley Knight and Al Freeman Jr as the leads, actually a re-teaming since both starred in his 1965 LA and Frisco legit mountings of the property.
Anthony Harvey makes his directorial debut after a long career as a film editor. It is a challenging debut, since there is no screenplay, only Jones’ legit dialog, and the action is confined to a NY subway car, except for some second-unit lensing by Edward R. Brown. Withal, Harvey’s work is impressive, in eliciting adroit performances, in camera setups, and in overall editing pace.
Knight, a red-neck Jezebel if there ever was one, is outstanding as she deliberately debases Freeman, dragging him down from insecure middle class status to that of an embittered, violent youth.