The Mack

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The Mack
The Mack.jpg
1982 theatrical re-release poster
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
Harbor Productions
Distributed by Cinerama Releasing Corporation
Release date
April 4, 1973
Running time
110 min.
Country United States
Language English
Box office $3 million (rentals)[1]

The Mack is a 1973 blaxploitation film directed by California native Michael Campus, starring Max Julien and Richard Pryor.[2][3] The film also stars Oscar-nominee Juanita Moore, and Tony nominated actor Dick Anthony Williams. Filmed in Oakland, California the movie follows the rise and fall of Goldie. After returning home from a 5-year prison sentence, he returns home to find his brother involved in Black nationalism. Goldie decides to take an alternative path, striving to become the city’s biggest pimp. 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. Its soundtrack was recorded by Motown artist Willie Hutch.


After returning home from a five-year prison sentence, John "Goldie" Mickens, (Max Julien) has a plan to achieve money and power in Oakland, California by becoming a pimp. Goldie’s criminal ways juxtapose his brother Olinga’s (Roger E. Mosley) Black Nationalist efforts to save the community from drugs and violence. With Slim (Richard Pryor) as his partner and Lulu (Carol Speed) as his head prostitute, he organizes a team of women and quickly rises to prominence. His success catches the attention of Fat Man (George Murdock), the heroin kingpin that Goldie worked for before heading to prison, and Hank (Don Gordon) and Jed (William Watson), two corrupt and racist white detectives. Goldie refuses to work for Fat Man again, and dismisses the detectives' requests to stop his brother from ridding the streets of drugs. As a result, his mother is assaulted which eventually leads to her death. Even though Olinga is disappointed in Goldie because he "brought death to their house," he agrees to help him get revenge. They develop a plan with Slim to seek revenge, but their plans fall apart when Hank and Jed kill Slim at their rendezvous point. They reveal that they are responsible for Goldie’s mother’s death, causing Goldie and Olinga to kill them both. Realizing that Oakland is now too dangerous, Goldie hugs his brother goodbye and leaves the city on a charter bus.



The original script for the film was written on prison toilet paper by a man named Bobby Poole. While staying in Oakland for two months, director Michael Campus met Frank Ward, a real pimp and drug dealer from Oakland. Max Julien's character of Goldie is based upon him. In order to shoot the movie, Campus needed Ward’s permission, as a large portion of the scenes were in his territory. In exchange for his guidance and protection, Campus put Ward in the film. All of the homeless people, junkies, pimps and women in the film were supplied by Frank Ward.[4]

Although he had Ward’s protection, the film was also in Black Panther territory. While they were filming bottles and trash cans would be thrown off the roof by Black Panther party members. In order for filming to run smoothly, an additional deal had to be made with Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, who were then put in charge of providing extras for the film. About halfway through the production of the film Frank Ward was shot and killed while in his Rolls Royce. There was speculation that the Black Panthers were responsible for Ward’s death, so the filmmakers and cast relocated to safer areas for filming. Despite the tension, the film opening was held in Oakland with all of the proceeds going towards the Black Panthers' milk fund.[5]


The film was screened in theatres in only about 20 mostly black communities. Distributors avoided theatres in predominantly white neighborhoods due to a belief the film would do better in black areas. According to director Michael Campus, despite low distribution the film outgrossed The Godfather in the cities in which it played.[2]

Alternate score[edit]

In its original 1973 release from Cinerama Releasing and its 1978 reissue by AIP, The Mack featured a score by Willie Hutch. In 1983, Producers Distribution Company and Blossom Pictures reissued the film, to capitalize on the resurgent popularity of Richard Pryor and Roger Mosley (the latter a co-star on hit TV series Magnum P.I.), and commissioned a new score by Alan Silvestri featuring vocals by Gene McDaniels. The reissue poster advertised a soundtrack release on Posh Boy Records, but the album was released on the ALA Enterprises label; it is now out of print and highly collectible. To differentiate it from the original score, fans have referred to it as "The Mack and His Pack," based on a catch phrase used on the reissue poster. When the film was initially licensed to Embassy Home Entertainment for home video, the Silvestri score was present. The New Line DVD release restored the original Willie Hutch score to the film.

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 Mack in the song Big Pimpin', in the line "not for nothing, never happen, I'll 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 Burnie's.
  • 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 6 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 film Friday, a character named Felicia asks the main character Craig to borrow his VCR so that she can dub The Mack.
  • In the television series Martin episode "Do You Remember the Time", Martin recalls his version of the first time and Gina met. In the episode "All the Players Came", Martin throws a player's ball themed fundraiser with guest starring Dick Anthony Williams as the MC Pretty Tony.
  • Digital Underground sampled the lines "You ain't no pimp. You a rest haven for hoes." in "It's a Good Thing We're Rappin'" from their 1991 album Sons of the P.
  • In the fifth-season episode "The Curse of Savanti Romero" of the 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, one of Donatello's choices for a Halloween costume is shown as "Smooth Donatello". In this shot, an image is inserted portraying Donatello as The Don, in a parody of Max Julien's depiction on an alternate poster version to The Mack.
  • Chance the Rapper sampled "Brother's Gonna Work It Out" in "Lost (ft. Noname Gypsy)."[6]
  • Chief Keef also sampled "Brother's Gonna Work It Out" in "Nobody", a collaboration with Kanye West.[6]


  1. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1973", Variety, 9 January 1974, pg 19.
  2. ^ a b "'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. ^ "See Why Black Panthers Got Violent With Crew On "The Mack" Movie Set". I Love Old School Music. I Love Old School Music. 
  5. ^ Walker, David; Rausch, Andrew; Watson, Chris (2009). Reflections on Blaxploitation: Actors and Directors Speak. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow. p. 19. 
  6. ^ a b "Listen to the Willie Hutch song both Chief Keef and Chance the Rapper sampled". Chicago Reader. Sun-Times Media, LLC. 

External links[edit]