Mandingo (1975) - Rotten Tomatoes

Mandingo (1975)

Mandingo (1975)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Mandingo Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Richard Fleischer directed this lurid historical drama based on the novel by Kyle Onstott. The story begins on a run-down plantation lorded over by Warren Maxwell (James Mason) and his son Hammond (Perry King). Hammond travels to New Orleans where he buys a top-of-the-line slave, Mede (Ken Norton), at an auction. Hammond is proud of his purchase, hoping to bring in money by training Mede to fight his other slaves. Hammond returns with Mede to the plantation, where he has to contend with his sex-crazed wife Blanche (Susan George). Hammond looks upon Blanche as damaged goods since he discovered her to not be a virgin on their wedding night. Instead, Hammond prefers erotic pursuits with his slave Ellen (Brenda Sykes). Blanche licks her lips at the sight of Mede, and seduces him to get revenge on her husband. Blanche soon becomes pregnant and gives birth to a half-black baby. Enraged, Hammond comes after Blanche, poisons her, and then the child bleed to death before going after Mede.more
Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Romance, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Kyle Onstott, Jack Kirkland, Norman Wexler
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 3, 2008
Paramount Pictures


James Mason
as Maxwell
Susan George
as Blanche
Perry King
as Hammond Maxwell
Richard Ward
as Agamemnon
Lillian Hayman
as Lucrezia Borgia
Roy Poole
as Doc Redfield
Ben Masters
as Charles
Paul Benedict
as Brownlee
Ray Spruell
as Wallace
John A. Barber
as Le Toscan
Earl Maynard
as Babouin
Irene Tedrow
as Mrs. Redfield
Reda Wyatt
as Big Pearl
Simon McQueen
as Madame Caroline
Stanley J. Reyes
as Maj. Woodford
John Barber
as Le Toscan
Debra Blackwell
as Blond Girl
as Black Mother
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Mandingo

Critic Reviews for Mandingo

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (6)

Until this moment we cannot be certain that the movie is going to employ every cliche of antebellum melodrama.

Full Review… | October 14, 2013
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Viewed with fresh eyes, it can credibly be seen as revisionist history of a particularly savage kind.

Full Review… | October 14, 2013
AV Club
Top Critic

Mandingo is racist trash, obscene in its manipulation of human beings and feelings, and excruciating to sit through.

Full Review… | October 14, 2013
Top Critic

Embarrassing and crude.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Good to see Fleischer returning to the kind of psycho-pathological thriller that he can handle so well.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

One of the most neglected and underrated Hollywood films of its era.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Mandingo


Released near the end of the blaxploitation era, this is one of the few exploitation films of that time that, instead of being a crime drama set in a (then) contemporary urban area, is a lurid melodrama set in the Antebellum Deep South. It's also kinda significant to note that it is a full on exploitation film with a decent budget and full backing from a major studio.

The story concerns the owner of a run down plantation and his son who struggle to keep their enterprise going, and, in the case of the son, also have to deal with romantic feelings. The main theme of this film, besides racism, is that of miscegnation, aka interracial relationships. The material is good stuff for a history-based film, and could make for compelling viewing, but in this film's case, it's a mess.

The film does have a few good moments, and it is great at provoking thoughts, and makes for good discussion and debate material, but the way it is handled is just awful. Rarely do films make me feel scuzzy, but this one did. It's awkward, uncomfortable, and hard to watch, but since it is trying to both be artsy and exploitative, that makes it worse. Had this been a lower budget, and not tried to have merit, I think I could deal with it better. It's one of the early examples (that I'm aware of) of a film addressing the issue of slavery instead of glossing over it like Gone With the Wind, but it doesn't really DEAL with it, instead using the material as backdrop for hollow scenes of shock and awe that have no real weight. There's maybe a few scenes such as a direct camera address that work and have substance, but they're few and far between.

The music is handled by Maurice Jarre with a bit of assistance from Muddy Waters, and, while this helps some, the music still feels a bit out of place and overly dramatic. It's hard to really take it seriously. The acting like most of the rest of the film, is a real mess as well. James Mason is really slumming here, and I feel embarrassed for him. Susan George, my word, is she always this terrible and hysterical? It's almost making me rethink my thoughts on Straw Dogs. Ken Norton actually is okay here, even though the material only gives him so much to work with. Still, he deals with it the best he can.

All in all, I've seen worse, but the film at least tries to be both important and a seedy exploitation flick. Unfortunately, the way things are handled keeps the two parts from really mixing all that well, and it's the over the top exploitative stuff that shines through, and that's probably more detrimental than beneficial. Still though, I'm giving it some credit because I really never found it boring, and, like all films it does have potential. It's actually a rather fascinating film, even though it is pretty awful and trashy. If it were fun, like other black centric exploitation films of the era, then I might have enjoyed it far more. As it stands, I will defend it as something worth discussing, but the more time that passes before I watch this again (if ever), the better.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

She's gonna be my bed wench.

Hammond is the son of a wealthy slave owner in southern America. They reside on a plantation and Hammond has recently become married. He believes in treating slaves better than his father and he falls in love with one of his bed wenches. He also purchases a big slave that his father trains to become a bare-knuckle fighter. Hammond doesn't love the idea of training the slave and the wife becomes jealous of Hammond's bed wench and seeks revenge. Hammond's home is about to be flipped upside down.

"It just popped out like a seed out of a peach."

Richard Fleisher, director of Red Sonja, Amityville 3-D, Conan the Destroyer, Mr. Majestyk, See No Evil, Tora! Tora! Tora!, Doctor Dolittle (1967), and The Big Gamble, delivers Mandingo. The storyline for this picture is very compelling and well told. I loved the characters, settings, and felt the content was delivered appropriately intensely. The acting was solid and the cast includes Peter King, Susan George, James Mason, Ken Norton, Ben Masters, and Paul Benedict.

"Ain't you ever craved a white lady before?"

I was excited to find this on Netflix not too long ago and had to add it to my wish list. This is a well done period piece that is a bit underrated due to its intense content at times; however, I would say there is a step down in intensity from Django. Overall, this is a worthwhile picture that deserves a viewing.

"After you hang me, kiss my ass."

Grade: B+/A-

Kevin Robbins

"Mandingo" is a southern-fried stinkbomb that is almost gleeful in its shamelessness. A film that's so hilarious and hysterically offensive that it's a wonder that African-Americans nationwide didn't storm Paramount studios and slaughter the executives who green-lighted it.

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