The Mack

Screening on Film
Directed by Michael Campus.
With Max Julien, Richard Pryor, Don Gordon.
US, 1973, 35mm, color, 110 min.

Pimpin’ ain't easy, the saying goes, and no film better illustrates both the glamour and the downside of this world than The Mack. Though not the first film to invite audiences to identify with a villain, its volatile yet progressive take on sex, class, capitalism and race made it an important touchstone not only for black film, but also for hip-hop culture—serving as major inspiration for many musicians. Part gritty urban realism, part male fantasy, The Mack is based on the life of Frank Ward, one of the most successful African American drug dealers and pimps at the time. The real Ward provided guidance, protection and permission to film in his Oakland, California “territory” as well as all of the movies’ authentic underground extras—in exchange for a small role in the film. Max Julien plays Goldie, the Ward character, who returns home from jail to discover that his brother has become a black nationalist, whose opposition to drugs and violence complicates Goldie’s achieving his career goals. Shot in the middle of a turf war, the production came to a momentary halt when Ward was killed, and the filmmakers had to renegotiate with the Black Panthers. - adapted from text by Nathan Rabin, The A.V. Club

The Mack introduction by Jeremy Rossen.

Part of film series

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Say It Loud!
The Black Cinema Revolution