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Producer / Director Michael Campus
The Mack to be blaxploitation, the film is one of a handful of titles that are always, without fail, listed or mentioned as one of the most representational entries of the cycle. And, intentional or not, The Mack's influence on subsequent films in the blaxploitation genre cannot be ignored.
The film, starring Max Julien, Richard Pryor, and Carol Speed, depicts the rise and fall of an Oakland hustler. The following year, Campus made his second black film, this time on the East Coast. This acclaimed film, The Education of Sonny Carson (1974), is a gritty biopic of gangster turned political activist Sonny Carson.
At the time of this interview, Campus was putting the finishing touches on the film Thomas Kinkade's the Christmas Cottage (2007), starring legendary actor Peter O'Toole. Next Campus hopes to write and produce a feature film about the making of The Mack.
"The Mack* is a kind of godfather to a future stark frankness about life on the streets. But forget the sociological hooey and dig into the piece as an urban costume picture with a greasy/funky score by R&B genius Willie Hutch."
Cult film fanatics may find themselves initially stunned by The Mack because it is in many ways the polar opposite of the blaxploitation films it is often lumped in with: the amount of racy and violent content is minimal, the storyline is episodic in nature and the dramatic tone is very heavy and dark from start to finish. It also lacks the polish of films like Shaft and Superfly: the technical quality of the film is frequently raw and the pacing is sometimes inconsistent. However, viewers who can get used to this style will find The Mack to be a rewarding experience because it makes up for what it lacks in polish with a wealth of detail and plenty of raw emotion.
When discussing the blaxploitation genre, the topic often turns to the stars — actors such as Fred Williamson, Pam Grier, Richard Roundtree, and Jim Brown, all playing larger-than-life characters on either one side of the law or the other. Blaxploitation movies often were action movies, and most offered a chance for these key players to perform in dynamic parts that were denied to black actors until then. Many of these pictures were just redressed versions of Hollywood's 1930s movies, filled with local characters and street smarts (never more clearly denoted than by 1973's Black Caesar named after 1930's *Little Caesar*); they were engaging, but light. And though that may be the most notable characteristic of the genre, a handful of films tried to push the envelope and be more than just that — movies like
*Cooley High*, *Cornbread, Earl and Me* and 1973's *The Mack*.
Packed with raw power, The Mack takes an uncompromising look at big city
street life and survival in 70's Oakland."