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