Monday, June 2, 2008

Defiantly Un-P.C.

ImageMandingo (Paramount)
Richard Fleischer’s brazenly politically incorrect potboiler about slavery has been savaged by critics for over 30 years, and it’s admittedly difficult to defend. Is it a satire? A serious exploration? Exploitation? My best guess is: All of the above. The performances of James Mason and Perry King as the plantation’s overseer and son are entertainingly over the top, but Susan George creates a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a wronged wife, and her climactic seduction of the stud slave -- stolidly played by Ken Norton – is persuasively erotic. Director Fleischer is unafraid to get down and dirty, showing lynchings and other vicious violence. Too bad this disc doesn’t have a restored transfer.

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