Based on the best-selling book, Mandingo is a shocking look at plantation life in the Deep South. Mede (Ken Norton) is a slave whose master, Hammond Maxwell (Perry King), intends on keeping him as a prizefighter. As Maxwel... more »l focuses his attention on his wenches and Mede's brutal training, his neglected wife (Susan George) turns her passions towards Mede himself. The sordid doings explode across the screen as Mandingo plays out its savage and dramatic story.« less
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 06/29/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Part Harold Robbins and part Euripedes, this film has brutal depictions of slavery, abhorrent language, and extraordinary cinematography by Richard Kline.
The imagery of Falconhurst, the huge but decrepit plantation of a cruel and vicious man (James Mason in a strange and brilliant performance) is fantastic; with peeling paint and filthy mosquito nets, winding staircases of gleaming wood, dark steamy rooms, and lush exteriors with drooping wisteria.
The score by Maurice Jarre also adds much to the atmosphere, with Muddy Waters singing "Born in This Time". Perry King is excellent as Mason's son, broken in body, weak in spirit, knowing what is right and often doing what is wrong; as his wife, Susan George is appropriately annoying and trashy, and as his "wench", Brenda Sykes is lovely. Heavyweight boxer Ken Norton, who won over Mohammed Ali (and broke his jaw) in 1973, made his impressive screen debut as Mede the Mandingo.
This film is a mass of contradictions, which is probably what keeps one glued to the screen. It is manipulative yet unpredictable, gratuitous and raw but thought-provoking; some of it might be absurd, but many of the situations shown did happen.
With all the brutality, nudity, incest, and most of all, the repellent language, this is not a film for the young, or anyone squeamish about violence.
Total running time is 127 minutes."
Mandingo is an Eye Opener
Randy Butcher | 07/11/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"ROOTS was to make viewers sympathize for the plight of the African-American, and MANDINGO was to make viewers cringe and forget that the slavery south ever existed. The film had this viewer wanting to turn it off, but wanting to see what was going to happen next. Therefore, the film had done its job in its manipulation of the senses. The movie boasts an impressive and diverse cast with the respected James Mason, Perry King (Lords of Flatbush, Riptide), Susan George, Paul Benedict (tv's Jeffersons) and boxer Ken Norton. The story revolves around a southern plantation owner Warren Maxwell (James Mason) and his son Hammond (Perry King) and their dealings with the buying and selling of slaves. Hammond beds every young girl slave in the joint while marrying Blanche (Susan George), and at the same time, he wants to buy himself a prize black prospect for fighting purposes... a Mandingo(Ken Norton as Mede). Hammond seems to have some sympathy and care for the black women, and has little interest in his own white wife who takes on the mandingo as a lover to get back at her husband. Some of the goings on are outrageous (i.e. Mason's character trying to get rid of his rheumitsm by transferring it to the soul of a young black boy etc..) The film's portrayal of white southerners is as offensive as the portrayal of the black slaves. However, it is still the black characters that are exploited, especially the scenes of blacks vs. blacks and the name of the game is survival. A lot of kudos goes to the actors who took on roles in this film and a movie like this could not be made today. When this film was made it was a sleeper hit and caused some controversy, Saturday Night Live did a parody sketch called "Mandingo II" and O.J. Simpson, who was the guest host, played the title character. Garrett Morris, Bill Murray and Larraine Newman were also in the bit...it was one of the funniest sketches of the show."
MANDINGO - RAW - BRUTAL - DARK - GREAT!!
Randy Butcher | Louisville, KY | 08/13/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you like your movies to transport you to an era that feels like reality rather than Hollywood, a movie where each of the characters are filled with human flaws and weekness - MANDINGO is a must see. Not a film for those who like happy endings, not a film for those who seek an inspirational hero or heroine, not a film where good triumphs over evil - just an extremely raw view of the pre-civil war South. I first saw this film in college in the 60's and it has stayed with me ever since. No glory here, the plantation is falling apart - and the main characters fall apart morally even quicker. If you want a movie that will you will remember for a very long time - this is it!"
A film you hate to admit you love
rjgrib | 08/03/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Like titillating porn, Mandingo is the kind of film you rent and hope no one you know is looking. Then you hurry home, lower the blinds, make sure the kids are in bed, then turn on the VCR in anticipation. This film is so politically incorrect it's worth it on that merit alone! Black and white stereotypes are played up to the hilt and everybody is running around "pleasuring" any thing that moves. If you don't take it seriously, you can have loads of fun and laughs watching this one. Snortin' Norton does a great job as Meade the Mandingo fighting buck. Ol' Jimbo Mason is superb as the aging hard-line plantation owner who is very strict and true to the old traditional ways. His son Perry King is a much kinder and gentler soul without a cruel streak in him like the other characters. Susan George is great as the sly conniving Southern Belle who is not as innocent as she seems. Ol' Mr. Bentley from the Jeffersons - Paul Benedict plays a fine sub-role as Mr. Brambley the slave trader. All in all, let the liberals cry and whine. Get this film and have a ball with it!"
DVD quality is good, but should have been great
Tom Conner | 07/01/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this picture several times in the theater when it was first released and the cinematography, printed in Technicolor, was stunning. I particularly remember the first dining scene with the room having a strong amber glow from the late afternoon sun streaming in through the half-drawn window shades. The colors were consistently bright and brilliant throughout the entire picture. This latest DVD release is good, but it is not nearly as good as it could have been. It is apparent that Paramount did not care enough about this release to restore the color. It seems the studio simply used the original film elements, which have faded a little with age, as is. This is especially sad since Paramount released "Houdini" at the same time in beautifully restored Technicolor with stunning results. Shame on you, Paramount. "Mandingo" deserves your best efforts, too."