Big Little Lies
Witherspoon (body double?)
- not naked but it's Rihanna in a middling TV show!
season one, episodes one, two and three
Based on this movie, the term "Mandingo"
refers to an African group which seems to be especially
suited for brawling with bare knuckles and servicing
neglected southern belles. In this case, the designated
Mandingo is played by the former heavyweight boxing
champion Ken Norton, who in real life was a pretty good
brawler with the knuckles padded. He fought Muhammad Ali
three times, with all three fights going the distance.
Norton won the first in a split decision and broke Ali's
jaw in the process, thus winning the championship and
handing Ali only the second defeat in his illustrious
career. (Ali's only previous loss had been to Smokin'
Joe Frazier.) Ali won the rematch on another split
decision, and a highly controversial one at that. Ali
won the third fight three years later when Norton got
far ahead and "coasted" too early. All cards showed
Norton ahead 6-2 after 8 rounds, but he managed to blow
a 15 round decision - unanimously!
Norton took time off from boxing in between the second
(September 1973) and third (September 1976) Ali fights,
and it was in this period that he made two much-reviled
exploitation films about slavery, this one and its 1976
quasi-sequel, Drum. After that period, Norton returned
to the ring and would eventually be named the
heavyweight championship one more time - on a
technicality. The reigning champ, Leon Spinks, would not
fight Norton, who was the #1 contender, so the WBC
simply stripped Spinks of the title and handed it to
Norton. Norton lost that paper title in his very first
defense, so he retains the rare honor of having been
champion without having won a fight! Whether his reign
was based on a mere technicality or not, the fact
remains that Ken Norton was recognized as the world
heavyweight champion both before and after having
starred in Mandingo and Drum, and in three fights he
battled Muhammad Ali to a standstill. In terms of
qualifications for this part, Norton was no actor, but
one must concede that the man knew what to do with his
His athletic abilities were not restricted to
fisticuffs. He was one of the greatest high school
athletes in history, if not THE greatest. He was a
champion in pretty much every track and field event. He
won so many different events in an Illinois track meet
that he single-handedly forced the state to enact a rule
change which limited any participant to three events.
(It's still called the "Ken Norton Rule.")
This film was banned by the Catholic Church. Usually,
being banned by the "Legion of Decency" was the mark of
a must-see film, but not in this case. One reviewer
"Every once in a while you stumble upon a
movie that leaves you completely speechless. You sit
in stunned silence with only an occasional "My God!"
escaping from your lips. "Mandingo" is such a movie, 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."
Take away the slave-impregnating
and prize fighting and there would be nearly nothing
left of the tedious 127-minute running time other than
slave-whipping and slave-boiling. So it has the
all-time worst combination of two adjectives to
describe a film: it's both boring and offensive.
That's the bad-film perfecta. It is embarrassing that
this film exists, and even more shameful that it
spawned a sequel. There is no reason for this film to
exist, other than as example of the way we were, or
rather the way we didn't have enough sense to avoid.
But here it is, in Blu-Ray glory.
The Southern Belle in need of his manly (or mandingoly)
services in this film is played by Susan
Misch Owens plays a white prostitute
The various female slaves are played by:
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