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THE MACK

USA, 1973 (MIFF 1998, Funky! Freaky! Foxy! - Blaxploitation Cinema)

Director: Michael Campus

Never has a film lionised the sex industry to such an extent. And despite its down tone, it's deadly serious. Max Julien - not exactly a good-lookin' dude - struts around embarrassingly in definitive Mack-style. He does a standard rise-and-fall of the pimp who wants it all. Julien went on to create Cleopatra Jones. Roger Mosely spouts Panther-esque rhetoric which mixes queasily with the ruthless self-empowerment codes of the Mack. Richard Pryor cracks uncomfortably funny jokes in a prequel to the edginess he would later develop - prior to living out his own free-basing power trip. Written by convicted pimp Poole, and featuring a cast of actual 'Players' who get special advisory credits. A key scene is set at the Players Ball: an annual event held in Oakland, California where hookers dress up and vote for the best Mack (i.e. pimp) in town. With dialogue based on Iceberg Slim's books, and performances by some of the greatest Blaxploitation character actors, The Mack is fatally in awe of the reality it reflects. Part documentary, part fiction, all delusion. Not for the politically squeamish. - Philip Brophy

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