6.4/10
3,387
67 user 54 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
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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 all that the motion picture screen has never dared to show before. Expect the truth See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At least a dozen personnel worked on both Drum (1976) and Mandingo (1975), including star Ken Norton, screenwriter Norman Wexler, actresses Brenda Sykes and Lillian Hayman, costume designer Ann Roth, and producer Dino De Laurentiis. See more »

Goofs

About 18 minutes in, when Dite tells Hammond that she's "knocked up," her leg changes position between shots. See more »

Quotes

Charles: They make the best fightin' niggers - Mandingos.
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Alternate Versions

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.
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Connections

Spoofed in Hollywood Shuffle (1987) 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]
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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
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