A randomly comprehensive survey of extraordinary movie experiences from the art house to the grindhouse, featuring the good, the bad, the ugly, but not the boring or the banal.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Ken Norton (1943-2013)
Sports fans will remember Norton as the man who broke Muhammad Ali's jaw in the first of three split-decision fights, but readers of this blog know him as an icon of the 1970s: the star (in two separate roles) of Richard Fleischer's slavesploitation epic Mandingo and its sequel, Steve Carver's Drum. According to my stats, my review of Mandingo is by far the most popular thing I've written here, though most people probably look it up for the screencaps. For similar reasons, my review of Drum is also a top-ten item. Norton's death at age 70 from complications following a stroke is, however sad, as good an occasion as any to refer people to two films that strongly influenced Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained -- most obviously in the form of "mandingo fighting" -- and are arguably superior in their unselfconscious exploitation of the mood of their time. Look up Mandingo here, and Drum here -- and give Ken Norton some props along the way. As actor and fighter, he literally talked the talk and walked the walk. Ave atque vale.