Thursday, 17 January 2013

Mandingo (1975) : an antidote to Christmas (and Valentines Day)

Reading all the hype over here for Tarrantino's Django Unchained there
is a movie that gets mentioned a lot...

Mandingo (1975) was always mentioned along with The Devils, Straw Dogs
etc as a shameful 70s exploitation exercise but unlike the others
rarely got shown at the trendy movie confines like the Scala and
never on tv. I downloaded it recently and watched it as an antidote to
Christmas tweeness and it is a hell of a lot better than it's reputation.
It's horrifying and shameful all right - but only because it is
probably all real history. Susan George (just off Straw Dogs) is
brilliant and James Mason is much better than I was lead to expect.

All the American acting is very very impressive considering the subject matter (and that fact that some of them are not career actors).
Edit : Ken Norton died today 19/09/2013. He is the principally who I'm referring to. I have seen much worse one-off acting performances from the likes of Burton and Olivier, and apparently Mr Norton wasn't a bad boxer either.

Mandingo reminded me of The Devils a lot in its honesty - Mandingo is
not a porn film, it's like an even more nightmarish Southern Wuthering
Heights, filled with absolutely red raw racial and sexual politics.
One extra dimension that Mandingo has over the Devils is the change in
attitudes since the time.. you can see a glimpse of 70s sexism in The
Devils but even though Mandingo is trying to be politically correct
for its day it seems shockingly naive now.

It's a fascinating movie that will be talked about and compared to Gone With The Wind long after we are gone. Contains some nasty implied violence but virtually no gore, and the sex seems amazingly restrained for the time. Unfortunately it is not a movie you can bring up for conversation in a family atmosphere.. well .. anywhere... ever..

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