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Mandingo (1975)

James Mason , Susan George , Richard Fleischer  |  R |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (334 customer reviews)

Price: $20.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: James Mason, Susan George, Perry King, Richard Ward, Brenda Sykes
  • Directors: Richard Fleischer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Legend Films
  • DVD Release Date: June 3, 2008
  • Run Time: 127 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (334 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0016LFG4M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,091 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Mandingo" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Review

Up to now Legend Films has been a company mainly known for its colorization technology. (Ray Harryhausen used its system to apply a wash of tints to his 1957 20 Million Miles to Earth. ) But Legend also has a DVD division that has just grown larger with the licensing of 32 vintage titles from Paramount Pictures, a welcome development in light of Paramount s apparent reluctance to exploit its studio library. And none of these Paramount-Legend films, this purist notes with relief, are in need of the company s primary service: all were originally filmed in color, a few even in the glorious three-strip Technicolor process.[...]

The big title in this first group is Richard Fleischer s 1975 Mandingo, a back-alley parody of Gone With the Wind based on a lascivious 1957 best seller by Kyle Onstott. All that dewy-eyed antebellum melodramas so carefully repress returns here with a vengeance. James Mason, wallowing in a deep Dixie accent, is Warren Maxwell, the run-down proprietor of a run-down plantation whose two great concerns in life are finding appropriate breeding partners for his prize female slave, Ellen (Brenda Sykes), and his only son, an Adonis with a gimpy leg played by Perry King.

Maxwell s efforts at human husbandry go luridly awry when the partner he finds for Ellen the former heavyweight champion Ken Norton as a fighting slave begins a culturally unthinkable relationship with a not-so-shrinking Southern belle, played by the British actress Susan George. With its scenes of incest and infanticide (at no additional charge), Mandingo can hardly be accused of taking a sober, dignified approach to its subject, but when the historical context is itself obscene, transgressions are justified. That the film is still a hot potato more than three decades after it was made is a tribute to its undiminished power to provoke. --Dave Kehr of The New York Times

Product Description

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 Maxwell 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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
138 of 145 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars hot Southern sleaze...but riveting June 28, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
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.
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66 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MANDINGO - RAW - BRUTAL - DARK - GREAT!! August 13, 2005
Format:DVD
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!
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98 of 111 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mandingo is an Eye Opener July 11, 2002
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
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.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The horror... The horror." March 30, 2008
By PDC
Format:DVD
It seems fitting to headline my review of 'Mandingo' with the last words of the dying Kurtz in Joseph Conrad's 'Heart Of Darkness', because it also aptly sums up my response not only to the unfortunately accurate nature of the numerous atrocities depicted in this generally effective and unflinching film, but also my response to a significant number of the other customer reviews.

I have to say I was truly shocked at how many viewers responded with derisive amusement, laughter, and even a weird kind of delight to this frankly brutal, harsh, and, yes, often lurid look at the brutal, harsh, and often lurid reality that was the evil institution known as "slavery" -- a system which dehumanized and degraded everything it touched, and which nearly destroyed a nation. (Much as the Nazis' "Final Solution" would do a century later, only with more systematic efficiency, and with global repercussions.)

And this is to be regarded as a fitting subject for MIRTH? Well, perhaps if you lack a modicum of compassion, or even a rudimentary frame of reference with regard to black history. Admit it -- if this film had been about the Holocaust and had depicted the torture and gassing of Jews instead of the beating and lynching of slaves you would NOT have laughed, would you? At least I HOPE you wouldn't!

Face it, this is a particular chapter of history that is simply too close to home and too uncomfortable for many white Americans (which I, also, with some degree of shame, admit to being) to fully acknowledge, much less stomach. Damn right this film is inflammatory, politically incorrect, offensive and salacious. It HAD to be if was to pretend to any level of accuracy with regard to even a semi-objective portrayal of slavery.
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