Written by: Carroll Jenkins on October 26th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1975
Director: Richard Fleischer
Writer: Norman Wexler
Cast: James Mason, Susan George, Perry King, Richard Ward, Brenda Sykes, Ken Norton, Lillian Hayman, Roy Poole
DVD released: June 3rd, 2008
Approximate running time: 121 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Legend Films/Paramount Pictures
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.95
Synopsis: A plantation run by father and son apparently makes more money on raising and selling slaves (many sired by the son) than a cash crop. The father wants two things: a Mandingo slave for breeding and an heir to his estate.
This movie is not so much an exposé as ultra-sleazy big budget exploitation. To think The Warriors was accused of inciting riots when this potboiler intentionally pushes every button it can find – especially the big RACE button. Slavery is depicted as dehumanizing [no argument] and the slave owners as totally corrupt body and soul. Even the plantation is decrepit and rundown. You’d think with all that slave labor they could slap a coat of paint on the place.
Certainly the idyllic plantation life depicted in The Littlest Rebel is mostly fictitious, but equally so the world presented here. Both these films are based on partial truths and present polar extremes of the slavery issue: in one the slave owners are righteous, virtuous, and benevolent; in the other vision it’s the slaves with the high moral ground. There’s little room for historical accuracy in either film. In the world of Mandingo every white character is thoroughly evil and obsessed with sex and violence. Of course, that’s what this movie is really focused on – sex and violence, which it delivers in spades.
The DVD looks good and is presented anamorphic 1:78 with closed captions (probably should be 1:85). No extras, but many scenes that were cut for prior video versions are intact.
Mandingo is an extremely sensational film which has been very obscure since its original release. Now available for the curious to view in all its squalor.