6.3/10
3,189
65 user 51 critic

Mandingo (1975)

An 1840s slaveowner trains one of his slaves to be a bare-knuckle fighter.

Director:

Richard Fleischer

Writers:

Kyle Onstott (novel), Jack Kirkland (play) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 win. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Mason ... Warren Maxwell
Susan George ... Blanche Maxwell
Perry King ... Hammond Maxwell
Richard Ward ... Agamemnon
Brenda Sykes ... Ellen
Ken Norton ... Mede
Lillian Hayman Lillian Hayman ... Lucrezia Borgia
Roy Poole ... Doc Redfield
Ji-Tu Cumbuka ... Cicero
Paul Benedict ... Brownlee
Ben Masters ... Charles
Ray Spruell Ray Spruell ... Wallace
Louis Turenne Louis Turenne ... De Veve
Duane Allen Duane Allen ... Topaz
Earl Maynard Earl Maynard ... Babouin
Learn more

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Director: Richard Fleischer
Stars: Eddie Deezen, Wendy Sherman, Rick Overton

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Storyline

It's the mid-nineteenth century Louisiana. Falconhurst, a run down plantation, is owned by Warren Maxwell, and largely run by his son, Hammond Maxwell, who walks with a limp due to a childhood accident. Hammond is under pressure to get married and produce a male heir to continue the Maxwell legacy before Warren dies. With no experience courting a potential bride - his sexual experiences confined to slaves and whores - Hammond ultimately chooses his cousin Blanche for his wife in what would not be considered a courtship in its true sense. In turn, Blanche agrees to the marriage largely to escape the realm of her sadistic brother, Charles. As his father tells him is custom, Hammond, while on his and Blanche's honeymoon in New Orleans, also obtains a slave as a go to sexual partner, he buying Ellen, who he met when she was given to him in hospitality when visiting who was then her master. Concurrently, Hammond also purchases Mede, a Mandingo, as a slave, something Warren had always ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Expect The savage. The sensual. The shocking. The sad. The powerful. The shameful. See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In 1961, the play "Mandingo" was written by Jack Kirkland, based on the novel by Kyle Onstott; it made its Broadway premiere on May 22, 1961 at the Lyceum Theatre. It closed after 8 performances. See more »

Goofs

As Brownlee inspects a row of slaves in the film's first scene, he smokes an obviously-lit cigar, 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 as a precaution against burning the other actor's face. See more »

Quotes

Blanche Maxwell: Who's the wench?
Hammond Maxwell: A slave I bought - sometime back.
Blanche Maxwell: She for the Mandingo?
Hammond Maxwell: She ain't.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original UK cinema version was cut by the BBFC with heavy edits to the fight between Mede and Topaz, the beatings of the slave girl and the suspended male slave, and shots of Mede being prodded with a pitchfork by Hammond Maxwell. The uncut print was again submitted to the BBFC in 1987 for the CIC video release and some cuts were restored, with 47 secs still edited from the two whipping scenes. See more »

Connections

Followed by Drum (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

Born in This Time
Music by Maurice Jarre
Lyrics by Hitide Harris (as Hi Tide Harris)
Sung by Muddy Waters
[Played during opening title and credits]
See more »

User Reviews

 
Excellent disturbing film that violently polarizes audience
3 June 2003 | by chrisdfilmSee all my reviews

This is an underrated, truly great film on the subject of slavery, sexual hypocrisy and the haunted, hothouse atmosphere of generations of white bad karma in the 19th century deep south. There are some who've commented here who get it, others who don't want to get it because it's just too truthful and disturbing. These folks undoubtedly would prefer a TV sanitized version of slavery as in ROOTS. It's a testament to Richard Fleischer's integrity that he was able to pull this off. All performances are excellent (well, that's not strictly true as Ken Norton stumbles his way through but Fleischer, through his direction and editing gets an adequate job from him), including superb James Mason (one of his most brutally fearless roles as opposed to the nadir of his career as one IMDB commentator puts it). One of the things that's most disturbing about the film is the depiction of the consequences of slavery, racism and hypocrisy on the white race, how it warps son, Perry King's natural tenderness towards Brenda Sykes into a horrifying insecure paranoia that evolves into aberrantly exaggerated jealousy and sexually motivated violence by the climax. And poor Susan George's character is driven totally mad by her husband King's neglect and jealousy and the semingly contradictory tender erotic ministrations of slave, Norton. Mason reaps what he sows at the end and King's upbringing (and inferiority complex) is ultimately too much for him in the end, taking him down the same road to hellish oblivion.

If one wants to see a truly lurid, exploitive treatment of the same subject (although very entertaining also with a great cast -- Warren Oates, Isela Vega, Yaphet Kotto, et.al.) one should look no further than MANDINGO's sequel, DRUM. However, MANDINGO is different. It does contain some lurid, super charged sexual images and shocking cruelty and violence -- but Fleischer's treatment is matter-of-fact, in-your-face and ultimately totally unpretentious. It walks a tightrope but courageous director Fleischer never stumbles. The gritty, extremely realistic location and production design add to the disturbing ambience. Unflinching, beautifully shot (I saw this in the theater when it was released and at a rare revival screening in 2000) and undeserving of it's pariah reputation.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

25 July 1975 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mandingo See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono | 4-Track Stereo

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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