Black Mama, White Mama Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Review
“Black Mama, White Mama” is entertaining, but uneven.
“Black Mama, White Mama” begins with a group of female convicts (including the feisty, thieving prostitute Lee and a revolutionary named Karen) arriving at a prison. Almost immediately the two run into trouble as they not only quarrel amongst themselves, but land in hot water with perverted prison matron Densmore. Their time in prison is short lived, however, as they are both assigned to be transferred to a maximum security prison because they both possess intel about connections to illegal activity. En route to their new prison, Karen and Lee manage to escape (albeit changed together), but their freedom isn’t assured as the authorities (and other shady characters) are after them.
If the plot sounds familiar, that’s because “Black Mama, White Mama” is a sort of exploitation/Blaxploitation version of the classic film “The Defiant Ones.” Admittedly, the film isn’t anywhere near as good as the Sidney Poitier starrer, but there’s still much to admire about this 1973 cult classic.
First thing’s first, it needs to be said that Pam Grier and Margaret Markov are superb in their roles and their chemistry together is pitch perfect. The movie is at its best when it focuses on their characters and their goals in life. Unfortunately, they are not always on screen and that’s where the problems lie.
Plot wise, the movie is a bit of a mess. The film starts strong with the prison and escape sequences that offer up plenty of steamy moments, fights, and action, but the middle act meanders and drags as it focuses on a Police Captain, a wealthy pimp, and a crime boss (played by the always reliable Sid Haig). Additionally, the movie devolves into a typical “on the run” movie and just flat out runs out of steam by the time the movie crosses the finish line.
Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? This is a virtually flawless print of the film. The colors are so vibrant that the movie looks brand new.
Audio Track: Uncompressed PCM. How does it sound? The track is a bit muted, but it does the job.
* “Black Mama, White Mama” trailer.
* A still gallery of promo images.
* An impressive booklet featuring credits, an essay by film writer Chris Poggiali, and publicity stills.
* “White Mama Unchained”- A 14 minute interview with Margaret Markov who talks about her family, background, film career, and, of course, “Black Mama, White Mama.”
* “Sid Haig’s Filipino Adventures”- The veteran cult film actor talks about the films he made in the Philippines. He also talks about Jack Hill, Margaret Markov, and more. This extra runs 16 minutes.
* “The Mad Director of Blood Island”- An old school 14 minute bonus feature that contains an interview between Andrew Leavold and “Black Mama, White Mama” director Eddie Romero.
* A solo commentary by Filipino film historian Andrew Leavold. The personable Andrew delivers a solid track that is filled with all sorts of factoids.
Overall Thoughts: While not perfect, “Black Mama, White Mama” deserves credit for being the type of fun, risqué movie that you just don’t see anymore.
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