Film, Action and adventure
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The tedious, emasculated stereotype of the Deep South circa 1840, with its stoical slaves and demure southern belles, is effectively exploded here. Fleischer utilises the real sexuality and violence behind slavery to mount a compelling slice of American Gothic which analyses, in appropriately lurid terms, the twists and turns of a distorted society. The plot (from a novel by Kyle Onstott) explores the declining years of a slave-breeding family, whose slaves are treated not so much like animals as humanoids: their physical intimacy with the master-race is total. Finally it is the sheer absurdity and incongruity of the various women's roles in this crazy set-up which cracks the society wide open. The story is basically Victorian melodrama with more than an echo of the Brontes, but it is acted with enormous gusto, by Perry King especially; and Richard Kline's highly atmospheric pictorialisation of the Falconhurst domain adds a great deal. Good to see Fleischer returning to the kind of psycho-pathological thriller that he can handle so well.

By: DP

Release details

Duration: 126 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Richard Fleischer
Screenwriter: Norman Wexler
Cast: James Mason
Susan George
Perry King
Richard Ward
Brenda Sykes
Ken Norton
Lillian Hayman
Ji-Tu Cumbaka
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