Slave owner Warren Maxwell insists that his son, Hammond, who is busy bedding the slaves he buys, marry a white woman and father him a son. While in New Orleans, he picks up a wife, Blanche, a "bed wench," Ellen, and a Mandingo slave, Mede, whom he trains to be a bare-knuckle fighting champion. Angered that Hammond is spending too much time with his slaves, Blanche beds down Mede. Written by
Paul Benedict, who plays the trader Brownlee, must have really shocked people who recognized him from his television role at the time of the film's release, that of Harry Bentley, the neighbor in The Jeffersons. In fact, Benedict's first sentence in Mandingo, and also the film, was him asking how much a female slave and her infant was. See more »
In the movie's first scene, as Brownlee inspects a row of slaves he smokes a cigar which is obviously lit (smoke, ash, etc). But when he clenches the cigar in his mouth and leans in to inspect a slave's teeth, the cigar changes to one that has never been lit. (Maybe a precaution against burning the other actor's face?) See more »
I thought you was better than the white man, Masta. But you is just white!
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major studio film looks like low-budget exploitation
This film, despite some controversy about it's biracial sex scenes when it was initially released, seems to have faded from memory. Given the degree of sex, violence, and unadulterated exploitation of slavery in the antebellum South, that's a surprise, because I saw this flick nearly ten years ago and STILL can't forget it! Those whose image of the old South has forever been defined by GONE WITH THE WIND as romantic and chivalrous and pick up this movie in the video store(the cover art on the box resembles that famous pose with Gable and Leigh)thinking they're about to be trasported to Tara ought to run like Hell! James Mason and his lame son Perry King live on a plantation and own slaves body and soul. Well, at least the body part, as we see when Mason strings an errant slave upside down, strips him, and pattles his butt with a perforated paddle. Son King takes a more tender approach, as he sleeps with the female slaves, especially Brenda Sykes, whom he takes as his mistress. However, he marries Susan George to provide an heir, and presents her with a ruby choker. He also gives Sykes the matching earrings. When George learns of the relationship(Sykes wears the earrings while she serves dinner to George and King on their first night at the plantation), and Kings learns George has slept with her brother, the marriage hits the skids. George drowns her sorrows in lots of sherry and lots of Ken Norton, a slave Perry has purchased specifically for fighting other slaves for betting. George becomes pregnant, and when the baby comes, it hits the fan! It's hard to believe that anyone in 1975 could see this film as anything but exploitation of a very dark period in American history. Didn't anyone cringe at the sight of King going in to "take pleasure" from a female slave in a bed and the woman groans, "I too black for you", or Ken Norton standing stoically on the auction block of a slave sale while an old woman gropes around inside his loincloth? The video edition of this film I saw was from the early eighties, when movie studios did their transfers from the first worn-out prints the could grab, and may have had a muddy, faded look because of this, but it's hard to believe this thing came from a major studio. You'd certainly wouldn't know it from the production values, because the film looks as if the filmmakers didn't spend a penny more than they had to(we're treated to interior scenes inside a plantation house curiously devoid of furniture). With all these setbacks, it's hard to understand why this movie hasn't garnered even a semi-cult following. If you're in the mood to be offended on all levels and don't treasure some romanticized Hollywood image of the old South, grab MANDINGO.
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