Trouble Man (film)

Trouble Man is a 1972 blaxploitation crime thriller film directed by Ivan Dixon and produced and released by 20th Century Fox. The film stars Robert Hooks as "Mr. T.", a hard-edged private detective who tends to take justice into his own hands. It is still of note today for its soundtrack, written, produced and performed by Marvin Gaye.[1]

Trouble Man
Theatrical film poster
Directed byIvan Dixon
Produced byJohn D.F. Black
Joel Freeman
Written byJohn D.F. Black
StarringRobert Hooks
Paul Winfield
Paula Kelly
Music byMarvin Gaye
CinematographyMichel Hugo
Edited byMichael Kahn
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • November 1, 1972 (1972-11-01)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited States


An inner-city point man is on the run from both the cops and the crooks in this streetwise drama. T (Robert Hooks) is a combination pool shark, private detective, and all-purpose ghetto fixer who operates out of a billiards parlor in South Central Los Angeles. T has done well for himself—he buys a fancy new car every year, wears expensive suits, and lives in an upscale apartment. But, he also looks out for folks in South Central, has lukewarm connections with both the police and gangsters, and generally knows how to tell the good guys from the bad guys on either side of the law. T is approached by Chalky (Paul Winfield) and his partner, Pete (Ralph Waite), who run floating dice games in the neighborhood. Chalky tells T they've been ripped off several times by a group of four robbers, and they want to hire him to find out who the masked stick-up men are.

T takes it as a routine assignment and is willing to do the job for the right price. What he does not know is that Chalky and Pete are trying to take down rival crime kingpin Big (Julius Harris). They frame T for the killing of one of Big's underlings, who is shot by Chalky moments after a dice game is robbed by four men (T was present at the hold-up). An anonymous informant fingers T for the killing and makes him the target for Big and for LAPD captain Joe Marx (Bill Smithers), who dislikes T on principle. That sets off a series of cunning twists and confrontations that T is determined to survive.


Critical reception

The film was featured in the 1978 Harry Medved book, The Fifty Worst Films of All Time.[2] In contrast, Complex included Trouble Man on its 2009 list of "The 50 Best Blaxploitation Movies of All Time".[3]

New York Times reviewer Vincent Canby described it as "a horrible movie, but worth thinking about."[4]

Jimi Izrael of NPR called Trouble Man "a strong film" but one that "never had an entry point for mainstream audiences to grasp."[1]

See also


  1. Izrael, Jimi (December 14, 2012). "'Trouble Man' At 40: A Classic, But Where's Its Cult?". NPR.
  2. "Fifty Worst Films of All Time".
  3. "The 50 Best Blaxploitation Movies of All Time". Complex. October 1, 2009.
  4. Canby, Vincent (2 November 1972). "'Trouble Man' Arrives". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
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