|THE MACK (director/writer: Michael Campus; screenwriter: Robert Poole; cinematographer: Ralph Woolsey; editor: Frank Decot; music: Willie Hutch; cast: Max Julien (Goldie), Don Gordon (Hank-crooked cop), Richard Pryor (Slim), Carol Speed (Lulu), Robert E. Mosely (Olinga), Dick Williams (Pretty Tony), William C. Watson (Jed), George Murdock (Fat Man), Annazette Chase (China Doll), Juanita Moore (Mother), Paul Harris (Blind Man), Kai Hernandez (Chico), Lee Duncan (Sgt. Duncan), Junero Jennings (Baltimore Bob), Stu Gilliam (Announcer), Sandra Brown (Diane), Norma Mcclure (Big Woman); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Henry Bernhard; New Line Cinema; 1973)|
|"A violent and trashy
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A violent and trashy blaxploitation flick that's lacking in purpose and has shoddy production values. It was popular with black viewers (as was Superfly a year before) and did a big box-office. It has a meandering narrative as written by convicted pimp Robert Poole, who wrote the screenplay on toilet paper while in prison. The uninspiring direction by white filmmaker Michael Campus ("The Education of Sonny Carson"/"The Passover Plot") left the film with the characters stereotyped--all the whites being the bad guys. It urges us to take it seriously as something authentic in the black ghettos across America because society is corrupted (but reality, at times, is not its strong point).
In Oakland, in 1967, the mack (pimp) of the title, the soft-spoken ex-con drug pusher Goldie (Max Julien) gets out of the slammer after serving a 5-year sentence. Hounded by white crooked and racist cops, and seeing little career opportunities for blacks in the ghetto, Goldie becomes a pimp and quickly rises to the top of his field (even winning a best pimp of the year award in a ceremony honoring him as the 'Mack of the Year'). He gets around while sporting a mink coat and driving a customized limo and acting hard-ass business-like to his stable of holes. We are led to believe pimping is not easy, as Goldie must deal with a rival black pimp (Dick Williams), who tries to steal his business; the 2 crooked white cops dogging him (Don Gordon & William C. Watson); and, the whims of his many whores.
In one vignette a Goldie rival is thrown into a car trunk and driven around the streets with a sack full of loose rats gnawing at him. Another Goldie baddie is the white heroin drug pin, the Fat Man (George Murdock), someone he formerly worked for, who has battery acid injected into his veins (which sparked wild applause in black theaters).
A giggling, talkative, coked-up Richard Pryor plays Goldie's best friend and sidekick. Roger E. Mosely plays Goldie's crime fighter brother, Olinga, who preaches black power and is a respected member of the black community. He does not approve of his brother's choice to be a self-made gangster. Carol Speed plays the hooker who starts the ball rolling for Goldie, by being his first meal-ticket.
When the crooked cops unsuccessfully try to frame Goldie for the murder of an honest black cop (the only good cop in the movie), someone they killed and they also kill Goldie's angelic mom (Juanita Moore), Olinga aids his brother in getting revenge on the white cops.
It's the kind of film that denigrates both races in its racist story and dumbly explains prostitution as a necessary economic staple in society that's been around since ancient times. meanwhile it ignores the plight of the whores, treating them as dirt.
The film is dedicated, "In memory of a man, Frank D. Ward" (murdered during production), with the Ward brothers listed as technical advisors. The brothers are actual pimps who appear during the awards sequence, filmed in part at the real Mack Ball.
REVIEWED ON 7/20/2018 GRADE: C-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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