HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
American Assassin
Die, Mommie, Die!
All the Money in the World
Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, The
Black Panther
Children's Hour, The
Mayhem
Sphere
Guyver, The
Night School
Loveless
Ragtime
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
Murders in the Rue Morgue
Wound, The
Scalawag
Let's Get Harry
Girl with Green Eyes
Sunchaser, The
Tom Jones
Downsizing
Defiant Ones, The
Centerfold Girls, The
Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The
120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)
Police Academy 3: Back in Training
Safe Place, A
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Cargo
Entertainer, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Bad Taste from Outer Space: Galaxy of Terror and Xtro
A Yen for the 1990s: Iron Monkey and Satan Returns
Hey, Punk: Jubilee and Rock 'n' Roll High School
Help! with The Knack: Richard Lester in 1965
Roll Up, Get Yer Free Cinema: The Shorts on the BFI Woodfall Blu-rays
Time for Heroes: The Dam Busters and How I Won the War
Hell is a City: Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver
Boris Goes Bonkers, Bela Goes Bats: The Old Dark House and Mark of the Vampire
Charles Bronson's Mid-70s: Breakheart Pass and Others
Kids in America: The Breakfast Club vs Metropolitan
80s Dance-Off: Staying Alive vs Murder-Rock vs Breakin'
The Cinematic Darkside of Donald Crowhurst
Dutch Courage: The Flodder Series
Coming of Age: Boys on Film 18 - Heroes on DVD
Country and Irish - The secret history of Irish pop culture
   
 
  Mandingo Slave DriversBuy this film here.
Year: 1975
Director: Richard Fleischer
Stars: James Mason, Susan George, Perry King, Richard Ward, Brenda Sykes, Ken Norton, Lillian Hayman, Roy Poole, Ji-Tu Cumbuka, Ben Masters, Paul Benedict, Ray Spruell, Louis Turenne, Duane Allen, Beatrice Winde, Earl Maynard, Debbi Morgan
Genre: Drama, Historical
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is 1840 in the Deep South of the United States, and despite the abolitionist movement in the North, slavery is still extensively used there. On the run down Falconhurst estate the patriarch Warren Maxwell (James Mason) buys and sells slaves to fund his family's lives, as he is today, when a purchaser inspects his wares with a view to taking a few off his hands. The idea that these are human beings is an alien one to the likes of Warren, as he treats them little better than animals, but his son Hammond (Perry King) has a kinder outlook. Though the fact remains, the whites in this corrupt society are thoroughly depraved...

To get some idea of the reaction to this film at the time, look to its references in comedy: in The Kentucky Fried Movie the spoof trailer for Catholic High School Girls in Trouble proudly proclaims it to be "More offensive than Mandingo!", and on an episode of Saturday Night Live a parody of it saw O.J. Simpson passionately kissing Bill Murray. So with material like that, you might have expected the work itself to be a non-stop barrage of camp bad taste that would have audiences rolling in the aisles, but in spite of this reputation it's not half as funny as all that. Although it endeavours to be harrowing and can be seen as nothing more than a big budget exploitation movie, it's actually far grimmer than often given credit for.

It's not as if the filmmakers were thinking, let's make a hilarious ride through the darkest period in American history, though by adapting the novel, by the possibly pseudonymous Kyle Onstott (a whole series of these were written), which did have a trashy notoriety, the view was that producer Dino de Laurentiis was up to his old catchpenny tricks. This was certainly no Gone with the Wind, where the whites were the good guys, and the whole point of abolishing slavery was somewhat forgotten in the family saga, as for a start Mandingo is set before the Civil War, and besides the whites here are shown to be despicable hypocrites whose behaviour has not only debased a whole race of people, but themselves as well.

That's not to say that director Richard Fleischer did not set out to shock, as there are plenty of lurid scenes, but at least they are presented as unavoidable and essential to the plot. It is far too long, and by the first half hour you have pretty much got the measure of the lesson you are being told, yet its serious intentions should not have been doubted, even if it did mix in the whole sexual angle with uncommon enthusiasm. Indeed, sex is the only thing that they are enthusiastic about as Hammond falls in love with slave Ellen (Brenda Sykes), his so-called "wench" who he can go to for satisfying his carnal desires, only to develop a deeper bond with her than his wife, Blanche (Susan George).

George was much lampooned for her supposedly over the top performance, but she isn't doing anything that the script did not demand, and is very effective as the dissolute example of how the white women were every inch the phonies their menfolk were. The Mandingo of the title refers to boxing champ Ken Norton's Mede, who Hammond buys as a stud and as a fighter, and approaches him with a respect that we see by the end amounted to little more than that afforded to a loyal pet dog. And when Mede turns against Hammond in the final half hour, not through any fault of his own but because Blanche forces him into it, we can also see that his master was little better than his vile father Warren. What this film needed to be was a whole lot angrier: the sequence where slave Cicero (Ji-Tu Cumbuka) fights back is more satisfying even if it does end in his hanging. But perhaps that was the point, that the degeneration of this society spawned a miriad hopeless cases that only the war, drawing nearer as the story hints, could do something to assuage. Music by Maurice Jarre.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3718 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Richard Fleischer  (1916 - 2006)

American director whose Hollywood career spanned five decades. The son of famed animator Max Fleischer, he started directing in the forties, and went on to deliver some stylish B-movies such as Armored Car Robbery and Narrow Margin. His big break arrived with Disney's hit live action epic, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, and which he followed up with such films as The Vikings, Compulsion, Fantastic Voyage, The Boston Strangler, true crime story 10 Rillington Place, See No Evil, cult favourite Soylent Green, Mister Majestyk, Amityville 3-D and sequel Conan the Destroyer. He became unfairly well known for his critical flops, too, thanks to Doctor Dolittle, Che!, Mandingo, The Jazz Singer remake, Red Sonja and Million Dollar Mystery, some of which gained campy cult followings, but nevertheless left a solid filmography to be proud of.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
  Jamie Nichols
Andrew Pragasam
George White
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
   

 

Last Updated: