Edwin Edwards, the governor of Louisiana at the time, was cast as a gambler and several scenes were filmed but excised before release. Upon the advice of his public relations staff, Edwards decided the potential damage to his public image when the salacious content of the film was revealed would be too great.
Richard Fleischer repeatedly turned down Dino De Laurentiis' overtures to direct the film. He ultimately relented when he realized that the best way to make the film was to shoot it straight and tell the story as truthfully as he could.
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 (1975). In fact, the first sentence in the film is him asking how much a female slave and her infant was.
The film was made and released about eighteen years after its source novel of the same name by Kyle Onstott had been first published in 1957. The film's sequel Drum (1976) by the same novelist was first published around five years later in 1962. The novels are known as the "Falconhurst" series of novels named after the name of the Alabama plantation estate that features as the book's central locale.
In the sequel Drum (1976), Ken Norton plays Drum, a different character than he portrayed in Mandingo (1975), where he played Mede (aka Ganymede). Similarly, so does actress Brenda Sykes, who plays Ellen in the first film and Calinda in the second. Actress Lillian Hayman though did portray the same character, Lucrezia Borgia, in both films.
The "Falconhurst" novel series of books are (in order of publication): Mandingo (1957), Drum (1962), Master of Falconhurst (1964), Falconhurst Fancy (1966), The Mustee (1967), Heir to Falconhurst (1968), Flight to Falconhurst (1971), Mistress of Falconhurst (1973), Six-Fingered Stud (1975), Taproots of Falconhurst (1978), Scandal of Falconhurst (1980), Rogue of Falconhurst (1983), Miz Lucretia of Falconhurst (1985), Mandingo Master (1986), and Falconhurst Fugitive (1988).