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
During Mede's first fight in the city, he and his opponent are wrestling on the grass. When they roll over the floor, the grass is moving like a slipping carpet would, revealing it to be a sheet of artificial green, probably lying on the floor of a sound stage. See more »
The international version of the film (released on PAL region 2 DVD) contains a different cut of the film that runs approx. 5 minutes shorter than the U.S. release but also has many scenes presented in alternate clothed takes. In all 12 scenes were either trimmed or re-edited with alternate shots/angles/takes:
Scene where slave is bent over and inspected for hemorrhoids is cut.
Scene where the wench is being prepared for her deflowering is presented in an alternate take where her breasts are not exposed.
Scene with pregnant wench is shot with alternate angles to obscure nudity. Perry King's full frontal nudity is cut and replaced with a closer shot that reveals he is wearing shorts when he kneels down to pray (It looks like a goof - only a bit of the waistband can be seen at the corner of the frame).
Alternate takes of the slave being strung up to be beaten are used to obscure nudity, and many shots of him being beat and left bloody are cut.
A few seconds where Perry King's cousin rips off a wench's dress and bends her over to begin beating her is cut to remove nudity. The beating is left intact.
The slave market scene is edited to remove the topless wenches on display, and the shot where the German widow sticks her hand into Ken Norton's shorts and "inspects" him is cut short. The second shot with her hand in and then removing it is left intact though.
An alternate take is used with a prostitute clothed rather than nude at the bawdy house.
A few seconds of a prostitute rubbing on Perry King's crotch is cut.
An alternate take is used during the fight at the bawdy house so that a prostitute is seen holding her dress up while she cheers whereas in the original she lets it fall and her breasts be exposed.
The entire scene between Perry King and Brenda Sykes in which she asks him if he'll let their child go free is presented in alternate clothed takes. In the original film they are both completely nude. Even the camera angles and setups are the same, only with clothes in the international version.
In the scene where Ken Norton fights a man to death one long shot where the other fighter claws his back is cut. Also cut is when Ken bites down on the other fighter's neck, is pulled off, and then bites into his neck again. All the close-ups are cut.
The Susan George/Ken Norton love scene is almost entirely missing. Ken Norton's nudity is cut, and then the scene ends in an alternate take when the two go out of frame onto the bed. The original scene went on for much longer and exposed Ken Norton's buttocks and Susan George's breasts. The German theatrical version does not feature any of these alterations and is identical to the U.S. release.
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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