The Mack

Max Julien as Goldie in The Mack (dir. Michael Campus, 1973).

Could director Michael Campus possibly be the same Michael Campus responsible for this year's made-for-DVD Thomas Kinkade's Home for Christmas, as IMDb indicates? I guess so. The other two films I recognize from the list there are ZPG (Zero Population Growth), which I never saw but remember from the newspaper ads in the movie section of the Modesto Bee circa 1972, one of those sensationalistic sci-fi current-events-jobs that partly defined the cinematic mood of the era, and Survival (1976), about which there is surprisingly little info, and which I actually did see on its release, a gross-out docudrama about the Rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes and who resorted to cannibalism, based on a book called Alive, which was filmed again in 1993 under that original title, and which I did not see, being suitably scarred by the first version.

As for The Mack, it's a fine, earnest pimp drama, filmed with some real feeling and style, and featuring an agreeable mix of amateurish stiffness and poignant emotiveness on the part of its principal, Max Julien. The real highlight, though, is Richard Pryor's performance in the supporting role of Slim. He's just over the verge into grotesque, moueing and gasping and keening like that stock cartoon figure from earlier in the century, the one who pounds his fists against someone's chest, screaming, ya gotta help me, don't let them take me away, his body twisting into impossible attitudes of desperation and alarm. Disturbingly, Pryor's mannerisms here seem to prefigure his later state of actual physical disintegration.

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