ⓘ The Mack


ⓘ The Mack

The Mack is a 1973 American blaxploitation film directed by California native Michael Campus, starring Max Julien and Richard Pryor. The film also stars Oscar-nominee Juanita Moore and Tony-nominated actor Dick Anthony Williams. Filmed in Oakland, California the movie follows the rise and fall of Goldie. After returning home from a 5-year prison sentence, he returns home to find his brother involved in Black nationalism. Goldie decides to take an alternative path, striving to become the citys biggest pimp.

Though reviews were less than favorable upon initial release, The Mack is considered by many critics to be the best entry in its genre. The film is often categorized as blaxploitation, but Michael Campus, Max Julien, and others involved in its production have argued that the genre label oversimplifies the film.

The films soundtrack was recorded by Motown artist Willie Hutch.


1. Plot

After returning home from a five-year prison sentence, John "Goldie" Mickens, has a plan to achieve money and power in Oakland, California by becoming a pimp. Goldies criminal ways juxtapose his brother Olingas Black Nationalist efforts to save the community from drugs and violence. With Slim as his partner and Lulu as his head prostitute, he organizes a team of women and quickly rises to prominence. His success catches the attention of Fat Man, the heroin kingpin that Goldie worked for before heading to prison, and Hank and Jed, two corrupt and racist white detectives. Goldie refuses to work for Fat Man again, and dismisses the detectives requests to stop his brother from ridding the streets of drugs. As a result, his mother is assaulted which eventually leads to her death. Even though Olinga is disappointed in Goldie because he "brought death to their house," he agrees to help him get revenge. They develop a plan with Slim to seek revenge, but their plans fall apart when Hank and Jed kill Slim at their rendezvous point. They reveal that they are responsible for Goldies mothers death, causing Goldie and Olinga to kill them both. Realizing that Oakland is now too dangerous, Goldie hugs his brother goodbye and leaves the city on a charter bus.


2. Cast

  • Carol Speed as Lulu
  • William Watson as Jed
  • Dick Anthony Williams as Pretty Tony
  • George Murdock as Fatman
  • Max Julien as John "Goldie" Mickens
  • Roger E. Mosley as Olinga Mickens
  • Don Gordon as Hank
  • Richard Pryor as Slim
  • Paul Harris as Blind Man
  • Juanita Moore as Mrs. Mickens

3. Production

According to director Michael Campus, the original script for the film was written on prison toilet paper by Bobby Poole, an inmate at San Quentin. While staying in Oakland for two months, Campus met Frank Ward, a real pimp and drug dealer from Oakland. Max Juliens character of Goldie is based upon him. In order to shoot the movie, Campus needed Wards permission, because many scenes were filmed in his territory. In exchange for his guidance and protection, Campus put Ward in the film. All of the homeless people, junkies, pimps and women in the film were supplied by Frank Ward.

Although Campus had Wards protection, the film was also in Black Panther territory. During filming, Black Panther party members would throw bottles and trash cans from rooftops. In order for filming to run smoothly, an additional deal had to be made with Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, who were then put in charge of providing extras for the film. About halfway through the production of the film, Frank Ward was shot and killed while in his Rolls Royce. There was speculation that the Black Panthers were responsible for Wards death, and the filmmakers and cast relocated to safer areas for filming. Despite the tension, the films opening was shot in Oakland with all of the proceeds going to the Black Panthers breakfast program.


4. Reception

The film was screened in theaters in only about 20 mostly black communities. Distributors avoided theaters in predominantly white neighborhoods due to a belief the film would do better in black areas. Despite its low distribution, director Michael Campus has noted that the film outgrossed The Godfather in the cities in which it played.


5. Alternate score

In its original 1973 release by Cinerama Releasing and its 1978 reissue by AIP, The Mack featured a score by Willie Hutch, an artist and producer for Motown Records. In 1983, Producers Distributing Corporation reissued the film to capitalize on the resurgent popularity of Richard Pryor and Roger Mosley, who was co-starring on the hit TV series Magnum P.I). PDC commissioned a new score by Alan Silvestri featuring vocals by Gene McDaniels. The reissue poster advertised a soundtrack release on Posh Boy Records, but the album was released on the ALA Enterprises label; it is now out of print and highly collectible. To differentiate it from the original score, fans have referred to it as "The Mack and His Pack," based on a catch phrase used on the reissue poster. When the film was initially licensed to Embassy Pictures for home video, it included the Silvestri score. The New Line DVD release restored the original Willie Hutch score to the film.


6. References in popular culture

  • In a scene in the 1993 film True Romance, The Mack is playing on a TV screen in the background when Clarence Worley played by Christian Slater confronts Drexl Spivey played by Gary Oldman.
  • The films theatrical poster is spoofed in the 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 5th season episode "The Curse of Savanti Romero".
  • A$AP Mob also sampled "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" in "Put That On My Set", from their collaborative album Cozy Tapes: Vol. 1: Friends.
  • Chief Keef also sampled "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" in "Nobody", a collaboration with Kanye West.
  • Chance the Rapper sampled "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" in "Lost ft. Noname Gypsy."