The Mack (1973)

In this, one of the most popular of blaxploitation films, the charismatic Max Julien shines as Goldie, a man fresh from a stretch in prison who quickly rises to the role of top pimp in the city of Oakland. Adding complication to his life are the activities of a pair of crooked racist white detectives (Don Gordon, William Watson) and the requests of top mobster The Fatman (George Murdock) for Goldie to return to the small time. What the film truly benefits from is a sterling group of actors. Julien is engaging as the cool, calm & collected super pimp. The under-rated Gordon scores as a very bad bad guy, Roger E. Mosley is effectively intense as Goldie’s activist brother, lovely Carol Speed is endearing as Lulu the prostitute, as is Juanita Moore as Goldie’s loving mother, and Dick Anthony Williams has a field day as flamboyant Pretty Tony. Richard Pryor’s performance, decidedly more dramatic than comedic, is solid, and he proves to be a good sidekick. The film itself is fairly overlong, but as scripted by Robert J. Poole and directed by Michael Campus, it tells a decent story in an interesting enough way, and it doesn’t shy away from brutality. It gives laymen an insider’s perspective by consulting with a number of real-life pimps, and shows how their lifestyle affects everything that they do. They even have barbecues, softball games, and an annual Pimp of the Year contest. By the end it’s managed to portray Goldie in a complex fashion, showing that he hasn’t acted THAT differently from the ruthless Hank (Gordon). Yet, of course, we can’t help but side with Goldie during the finale as his nemesis has clearly gone too far. It’s here that Goldie has to make an important decision. An indelible influence on pop culture, particularly Quentin Tarantino, “The Mack” immerses us in this appropriately seedy world. It’s good fun, with a very hip score by Willie Hutch, and captures its time and place extremely well & remains convincing throughout. It doesn’t waste time getting to the action, and features some memorable lines and exchanges. It may not be for everybody – some people may indeed feel that it’s glorifying those in the prostitution business too much – but it does a compelling job at portraying a very real and very old profession, and very real part of life.