The film was praised by leaders of the Black Panthers who said it was "dedicated to all the brothers and sisters who have had enough of the 'man'".

I phoned Bobby Seale, the chairman of the Black Panthers, to ask him what he felt about the movies.

He said: "It was just that the mode of resistance in the black character (Sweetback), who went up against numerous obstacles, was part and parcel of our own resistance to what we considered the racist pig power structure right here in America.

"Huey P Newton and I had gone through all these obstacles from the mid- 1960's to 1971 and here we were still alive, even though some of our Party members were dead and fourteen policemen were dead.

"Huey saw the film and asked me what I think and I said, 'Huey, this is similar to us who have resisted and gone through all these obstacles to try to get some constitutional and democratic civil human rights for our people here.

"Even though the real content of the film had nothing to do with the real ideology of the Party, it was just that we thought our own resistance to oppression was quite symbolic of the film, 'Sweet Sweetback'.

"It was one of the first black resistance-type films of the 1970s. It came out at a period when the Black Panther Party was at its heyday. That particular film became one of the films that we felt all Black Panther Party members should go and see. I guess there's an old psychological adage about how one who is in a revolutionary struggle is a revolutionary 24 hours a day.

"Even in his sleep, he may dream of being chased by a hoard of oppressors and ultimately escaping in his dreams. Back in those days, we were revolutionaries 24 hours a day. So Sweetback was a type of film where, in the end, after all the confrontational obstacles, he ultimately escapes.

"I think brother Huey Newton saw it first. He asked me if we should recommend it and I said, 'Let the Party members see it'. I asked Huey, I said 'Huey, you should review the film'.

"So I got Huey to go back and look at the film twice more and Huey did an extensive two or three page spread leading from the front page of one of our issues of the Black Panther newspaper."