23 September, 2010

Jess Franco's MANDINGA

[mandinga_posert.jpg]
Racist, blaxploitation or just Eurotrash?

Before it was made by an Italian director, this was a Jess Franco project initiated after the US produced MANDINGO (1975) proved to be a reasonably successful item. Talk about exploitation!

Alain Petit tells the story in THE MANACOA FILES: Franco and his small cast and crew were to shoot in Montpelier, France. The director left equipment and cast members in a chateau and went to Italy to secure co financing from Sefi Cinematografica [Eurocine was co-producing in France]. In the meantime the French police showed up when called to resolve the unpaid hotel bill. They questioned Franco's staff and William Berger (who was to play the white slave owner) reported that the police then confiscated/impounded some equipment. Franco disappeared and the film was not completed. Berger also states in his interview in OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO that a significant amount of footage was shot. Set in the mid 19th Century deep South,  Lina Romay is cast of a slave woman who is raped by Berger's plantation owner, she gives birth to a daughter, also played by Romay.. The daughter is then raised as a white woman. Petit speculates that up to 45m of film may have been shot. That story may be more interesting than the film itself if it was completed. Certainly the 1976 Mario Pinzauti film of the same title is as sleazy, racist and offensive as exploitation gets. A trashy mixture of sadism, blaxploitation and sexual torture. 

Franco also attempted to produce a thriller (L'ASSASSIN PORTAIT DE BAS ) simultaneously with the MANDINGA shoot, utilizing the same cast and crew (minus Berger) and locations. It was also left undone in the wake of the financial chaos and police raid.

5 comments:

Hellbilly Hollywood said...

I never saw blaxploitation films as racist, being that they were made for black audiences with things thrown in for their amusement. If anything, they were racist towards white people.

dfordoom said...

A Jess Franco riff on Mandingo could have been tremendous fun. Especially with Lina Romay.

Robert Monell said...

I never saw blaxploitation films as racist, being that they were made for black audiences with things thrown in for their amusement. If anything, they were racist towards white people.

Good points. I used to visit blaxploitation flicks regularly in the 70s when they were popular. There may be an element of racist manipulation with, as you say, rage turned against the white race.

dfordoom said...

I don't think American blaxploitation movies were racist, and even Mandingo wasn't racist - quite the opposite in fact. A movie that has been misinterpreted by a lot of people. I rate it as an extremely good movie in fact. But I've never seen Mario Pinzauti's Mandinga so I'm not sure if that applies to Italian blaxploitation movies.

Hellbilly Hollywood said...

Nonetheless, great post! I would have liked to have seen this as well. Franco had a way of, even when doing an established genre, really making it his own.