The Mack

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The Mack
The Mack.jpg
The movie poster for the film The Mack
Directed by Michael Campus
Produced by Harvey Bernhard
Written by Robert J. Poole
Starring Max Julien
Richard Pryor
Carol Speed
Roger E. Mosley
George Murdock
Music by Willie Hutch
Distributed by Cinerama Releasing Corporation (1973, original) American International Pictures (1978, re-release), New Line (2002, DVD)
Release dates
April 4, 1973
Running time
110 min.
Country United States
Language English
Box office $3,000,000 (US/ Canada rentals)[1]

The Mack is a 1973 blaxploitation film starring Max Julien and Richard Pryor.[2][3] Although the movie was produced during the era of such blaxploitation movies as Dolemite, its producers do not label it a true blaxploitation picture. They believe it to be a social commentary, according to Mackin' Ain't Easy, a documentary about the making of the film, which can be found on the DVD edition. The movie is set in Oakland, California and was the highest-grossing blaxploitation film of its time. Its soundtrack was recorded by Motown artist Willie Hutch.


Oakland, California 1967: John "Goldie" Mickens, (Max Julien) a small-time black drug dealer and his best friend Slim (Richard Pryor) are in the middle of a shootout in a salvage yard after being set up during a botched drug deal. Realizing that they're outgunned, Goldie orders Slim to flee the salvage yard. Goldie crashes his car as he attempts to escape and is apprehended by Hank (Don Gordon) and Jed (William Watson), two corrupt, racist white police detectives. Goldie is tried in court and sentenced to five years in the California State Penitentiary. In prison Goldie almost becomes stir crazy and struggles to maintain his sanity.

Five years later, in 1972 Goldie is released from prison and returns to Oakland on a charter bus. He immediately goes into a pool hall where he's reunited with his mentor The Blind Man (Paul Harris), an aging street hustler and pimp. The Blind Man decides to help Goldie get back on his feet by turning him on to pimping and gives him his first lessons on being a successful pimp: "A pimp is only as good as his product, and his product is women. Now you've got to go out there and get the best ones you can find. And you've got to work them broads like nobody's ever worked them before. And never forget: anybody can control a woman's body, you see, but the key is to control her mind."

After meeting with the Blind Man, Goldie goes to a nightclub where he bumps into Lulu (Carol Speed), a childhood girlfriend who is now a prostitute. Lulu tells Goldie that, because she's an "outlaw" (a prostitute who doesn't have a pimp), that she is constantly antagonized by pimps who are trying to force her to "choose" (choose a pimp to run her). Lulu pleads with Goldie to become her pimp and, although initially hesitant, he accepts. As Goldie leaves the bar he's met by Hank and Jed, who harass and intimidate him. Goldie then goes to the apartment of his humble and deeply religious mother (Juanita Moore) who pleads with Goldie to go to church with her and to abandon his criminal ways. In their conversation it's revealed that the Mickens family relocated to California from Alabama after Goldie's father was murdered. Goldie rejects his mother's pleas, reasoning that he has to face "the man" the only way that he knows how to. Goldie then heads to a meeting where his younger brother Olinga (Roger E. Mosley), a Black Nationalist, is giving a speech about creating a "Black America Within But Without White America". The two brothers reunite and Goldie informs Olinga that he's going to get his life together, not disclosing to Olinga that he's decided to become a pimp, something that he knows Olinga strongly disapproves of.

As Goldie sits in a barber shop he overhears the conversations of several pimps, including the cocky and boisterous Pretty Tony (Dick Anthony Williams) and Frank Ward, the real-life pimp who the film is based on. Goldie begins soaking up the attitude and mentality of a pimp and immediately develops a cold-hearted attitude. This is displayed in the following scene in Lulu's apartment where, after having sex with Lulu and reminiscing on their difficult childhoods, Goldie coldly moves Lulu's arm off of him and struts to a mirror to look at himself.

After being fronted money by the Blind Man in order to get started out Goldie begins pimping, with Lulu as his "bottom bitch" (a pimp's #1 prostitute who is also put in charge of other prostitutes in a pimp's stable) and Slim as his partner in crime . A montage set to the film's theme song show Goldie's rapid success as a pimp, recruiting several prostitutes including Chico (Kai Hernandez), a loud and sassy prostitute, and Diane (Sandra Brown) a young white woman from a wealthy family who becomes Goldie's favorite hooker. Goldie moves his mother out of her tenement apartment and into an upscale condominium. Goldie teaches his prostitutes how to rob clients and shoplift from expensive department stores. Goldie maintains his sway over the young women by brainwashing them, giving them speeches at a makeshift theater where he tells them what he requires of them as they watch an elaborate film display.

As Goldie's rise to success becomes evident he's confronted with several antagonists. The first is a black gambler who intends to rob Goldie. Goldie and Slim accost the man at gunpoint, lock him in the trunk of Goldie's 1971 Cadillac Eldorado, filling the trunk with rats and drive around Oakland with the man screaming in the trunk as the rodents eat away at him before finally dropping him off in front of a hospital. The second antagonist is the Fat Man (George Murdock), a white heroin kingpin who Goldie worked for before going to prison. The Fat Man is jealous of Goldie's success and wants Goldie to return to work for him in order to control him. Additionally The Fat Man is angered because Olinga and his group have abducted several black drug dealers under the Fat Man's employ in order to turn them into Black Nationalists and to stop them from selling drugs in the black community. Hank and Jed are also angered by Olinga's interference with their drug racket and routinely brutalize and harass Goldie in an attempt to get Olinga to stop.

Goldie and Olinga argue with one another about their activities. Olinga tries to get Goldie to see that pimping black women is no better than drug dealing, as both crimes involve exploiting black people. Goldie tells Olinga that he'll support him in ridding the ghetto of the drug dealers, but tells Olinga not to send his group after Goldie. Olinga asserts that, in order to fix the ghetto, they have to get rid of the drug dealers and the pimps at the same time. After Hank and Jed murder Sgt. Duncan (Lee Duncan), a black police detective who confronted the pair about their illegal activities, they unsuccessfully try to pin the murder on Goldie and Slim, even going so far as trying to force Goldie and Slim to run away from them at gunpoint so that the detectives can shoot them and claim that they attempted to evade arrest. It is at this point that Goldie begins to contemplate his lifestyle and it's inevitable consequences.

Goldie, along with Slim, Lulu and Diane, attend the Players Ball, an annual gala event highlighting Bay Area pimps. During the festivities the Fat Man once again attempts to force Goldie into working for him. Goldie once again refuses and lambasts the Fat Man for being so greedy that he's even willing to sell drugs to children. Goldie celebrates with Slim, Lulu and Diane and is awarded "Mack of the Year" at the Player's Ball. The scene then cuts to several days later as Goldie finds Diane dead in a hotel room. When Goldie examines her corpse he notices needle marks on her arm and realizes that she's been killed by the Fat Man as a way to get back at Goldie. Goldie meets with the Fat Man in a vacant lot. The Fat Man intends to have his henchman kill Goldie, however the attempt on Goldie's life is thwarted when Slim, disguised as a homeless man playing an accordion, kills the Fat Man's bodyguards. Goldie, Slim and several of their associates then subdue the Fat Man and kill him by injecting him with battery acid.

While gambling at an after hours spot, Goldie and Pretty Tony get into an argument after Pretty Tony's top hooker, China Doll (Annazette Chase), humiliates Pretty Tony by leaving him and "choosing" Goldie in front of the other hustlers at the crap table. Pretty Tony threatens Goldie, telling him "You're gonna wish you was never born, nigga!" and leaves. Later an unidentified man knocks on Goldie's mother's door, announcing himself as "A friend of Goldie's". When Goldie's mother answers the door the man points a gun at her. Goldie visits his mother at the hospital. She has been severely beaten by the assailant and is unconscious. She awakens to find Goldie at her bedside, who lies to her and tells her that the doctor says she will be alright. Broken-hearted and disappointed, she looks away from Goldie and slips into death.

Goldie and Slim track down Pretty Tony. After a brief shootout they chase Pretty Tony into an abandoned warehouse. Pretty Tony stabs Slim with his cane sword, but only causes a minor injury. Goldie and Slim hold Pretty Tony at gunpoint while Goldie forces Pretty Tony to stab himself in the buttocks repeatedly with the sword as payback for stabbing Slim. Goldie and Slim then bind Pretty Tony to a chair and gag him with a stick of dynamite, then leave as a helpless Pretty Tony is blown through a warehouse window when the explosives detonate. Hank and Jed arrive to investigate the murder.

At their mother's funeral Olinga tells a grief-stricken Goldie that he's "brought death to their house" because of his criminal activities and that, because of this, he's going to help Goldie get revenge against the people responsible for their mother's murder. Outside of the funeral home the Blind Man informs Goldie that someone's put a contract out on his life. Slim and several of their friends help Goldie evade the would-be hitmen by disguising themselves as movers and getting Goldie out of his condominium as the hitmen arrive to kill him. Goldie and Slim split up to meet at a rendezvous point. When Goldie arrives at the rendezvous point he finds an accordion with Slim's blood on it. Hank and Jed appear with their guns drawn on Goldie and confirm that they've killed Slim. The detectives then reveal that they, not Pretty Tony, killed his mother. As they do so Olinga appears from the inside of a vacant building and strangles Jed to death as Goldie disarms a distracted Hank. Hank attempts to plead for his life by claiming that he and Goldie are the same and that Goldie would have done the same thing to Hank. Goldie kills Hank execution-style as Olinga watches. Goldie walks over to Hank and Jed's car and finds Chico sitting in the backseat. Chico, resentful of Goldie's favorable treatment of Diane over her, revealed to the corrupt cops the addresses of Goldie and his mother. Goldie contemplates shooting Chico, but relents. He throws some pocket change at her and walks away. Realizing that Oakland is now too dangerous for him to remain there, Goldie hugs Olinga goodbye and boards a charter bus leaving the city the same way he came.


The movie received a mixed reception, but has gained a huge cult following in the years after its release which has spawned many cultural references, in music, film and television.[4]

References in popular culture[edit]

Dialogue from the film was sampled in the King Kooba song "Can...(Dig It!)".

Ludacris sampled The Mack in his song "Can You Buy That?"

Big L referenced The Mack in the song "American Dream", in the line "nigga, yo' bitch chose me, you know the rules to the game."

Jay Z referenced it in the "7 minute freestyle", in the line "I mack like Goldie, go back like the oldies."

The song "I Choose You" was sampled by UGK in their 2007 song "International Player's Anthem (I Choose You)", and by Jaheim in his song "The Chosen One".

Jay-Z again referenced the The Mack in the song Big Pimpin', in the line "not for nothing, never happen, ill be forever macking."

Guru of Gang Starr referenced The Mack in the song "Doe In Advance", saying "Like Max Julien I'm the authentic Mack So just relax, and keep the cuts like a lance."

Dr. Dre sampled dialogue from the film for the intro of the song "Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat" on his solo debut album The Chronic.

R. Kelly referenced The Mack in the song series "Trapped in the Closet", in the lines "And I said but yo' chick chose me/He said don’t give me that mack shit please".

Raekwon sampled dialogue from the film in his debut album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.

Tupac Shakur sampled a dialogue in "Definition of a Thug Nigga".

The "Players Ball" scene gave its name to Outkast's first single, "Player's Ball".

Rapper Curren$y references Max Julien in his song, "Chilled Coughee" from the 2010 album Pilot Talk. He states in another song, "I saw The Mack when I was only 11 years old/And I swore never to be a simp for a hoe!" He also later mentions Max Julien in the song "What's What" on the 2011 album "Weekend At Burnies" and created a song called Max Julien which is on the 2012 album "Priest Andretti"

Too Short, in his 1990 single "Pimpology", samples multiple lines in the movie from Goldie and Pretty Tony.

Jadakiss also remade the moment where Goldie and his partner kill Tony, in the skit "Stick Yourself" on his album, Kiss tha Game Goodbye. In this remake, Big Will plays Pretty Tony, Cross plays Goldie, and Icepick plays Slim (though he's referred to as "Pick").

Drum'n'Bass producer, Incognito sampled dialogue from The Blind Man, in his song Mack 2.0.

Dialogue from this movie is sampled at the start of 8Ball & MJG's 2001 single "Stop Playin' Games", which peaked at #47 on the U.S. charts.

Killer Mike, in his 2008 album I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind II, has sampled the "35,000 Dollars" dialogue on the track "Can You Buy That?"

Kris Kross sampled a dialogue from Richard Pryor in macking ain't easy

Rapper and producer, Raz Fresco sampled a clip from the movie in his music video for the song Filmore Slim.

Electronic Music duo Groove Armada samples a dialogue between Goldie and Lulu in their song "Pre 63."

The theme song was sampled in three six mafia's "Testin' My Gangsta".

In the 1993 film True Romance, written by Quentin Tarantino, The Mack is playing on Drexl Spivey's (Gary Oldman) television and referenced when Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) confronts him. When Drexl points out that Clarence isn't paying attention to the naked breasts on the screen, he responds: "I ain't looking at the movie because I already seen it seven years ago. It's The Mack. Max Julian, Carol Speed and Richard Pryor."

The Chemical Brothers 1998 compilation album "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" begins with the dialogue between Goldie and Olinga at the basketball courts.

In the movie Friday, Felicia asks Craig to borrow his VCR so that she can dub The Mack.

Television series Martin, episode Do You Remember The Time, Martin recalls his version of the first time and Gina met. Also in the episode All The Players Came, Martin throws a player's ball themed fundraiser with guest starring Dick Anthony Williams as the m.c. Pretty Tony.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1973", Variety, 9 January 1974 p 19
  2. ^ "'The Mack' is back after 40 years". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 27 February 2015. 
  3. ^ Dutka, Elaine (1997-06-30). "ReDiggin' the Scene". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-30. 
  4. ^ Canby, Vincent (1973-04-05). "Film: 'The Mack' Opens:Max Julien Stars in a Black Melodrama". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-02. 

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