Black Mama, White Mama (1973)

R | 87 mins | Drama | January 1973

Director:

Eddie Romero

Writer:

H. R. Christian

Editor:

Edward Mann

Production Designer:

Roberto Formoso

Production Company:

Four Associates, Ltd.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Chains of Hate . According to contemporary sources, the picture was shot entirely on location in the Philippines, in jungle areas near Manila. Black Mama, White Mama was very loosely inspired by the 1958 United Artists release The Defiant Ones , directed by Stanley Kramer (see below). The earlier film featured Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis as chain gang escapees who are shackled ... More Less

The working title of this film was Chains of Hate . According to contemporary sources, the picture was shot entirely on location in the Philippines, in jungle areas near Manila. Black Mama, White Mama was very loosely inspired by the 1958 United Artists release The Defiant Ones , directed by Stanley Kramer (see below). The earlier film featured Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis as chain gang escapees who are shackled together. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
5 Feb 1973
p. 4561.
Daily Variety
30 Jan 1973.
---
Filmfacts
1973
pp. 135-36.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 1972
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Aug 1972
pp. 13-14.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jan 1973
p. 3, 19.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
23 Mar 1973.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Mar 1973.
---
Motion Picture Herald
3 Feb 1973.
---
New York Times
26 Mar 1973.
---
Variety
31 Jan 1973
p. 28.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
From an orig story by
From an orig story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of cine
2d unit photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Assoc film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Propmaster
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Sd eff ed
Rec services by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Ordinance
Prod asst
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Chains of Hate
Release Date:
January 1973
Production Date:
early June--mid August 1972 in the Philippines
Copyright Claimant:
American International Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
19 January 1973
Copyright Number:
LP446367
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Movielab
Duration(in mins):
87
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
Philippines, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

As a busload of new inmates arrives at the Women’s Rehabilitation Center, located in a remote area of a Pacific island, they are inspected and given numbers. The two matrons, Logan and Densmore, a lesbian couple, argue after Logan catches Densmore masturbating while watching the inmates shower, but later that night, Densmore summons one prisoner, black prostitute Lee Daniels, to her quarters. Densmore attempts to seduce Lee but the headstrong Lee refuses, and Densmore beats her. Logan enters and stops Densmore, and back in the barracks, Lee vows revenge. The next day, Densmore solicits Karen Brent, a blonde, rich American imprisoned for fighting with the local guerrillas who are attempting to overthrow the dictatorial government, and Karen, desperate to find any way to escape, acquiesces, much to Lee’s disgust. At dinner, Lee upbraids Karen for taking the easy way out and leaving the others to finish her work. The two engage in a fistfight, after which Logan sentences them to a day in “the oven,” a tall, metal box in which the half-naked women are forced to hold onto one another for support so that they do not touch the burning sides. After a grueling day, the women are released and shackled together at the wrist with a thick chain for transportation to a maximum security prison in the city. Lee taunts Karen about her guerrilla friends attempting to break her out, while Karen pointedly questions Lee about her arrest for narcotics. Although Lee admits that her boyfriend, Vic Cheng, a local crime lord, is the biggest drug dealer on the island, she asserts that she was framed. The ... +


As a busload of new inmates arrives at the Women’s Rehabilitation Center, located in a remote area of a Pacific island, they are inspected and given numbers. The two matrons, Logan and Densmore, a lesbian couple, argue after Logan catches Densmore masturbating while watching the inmates shower, but later that night, Densmore summons one prisoner, black prostitute Lee Daniels, to her quarters. Densmore attempts to seduce Lee but the headstrong Lee refuses, and Densmore beats her. Logan enters and stops Densmore, and back in the barracks, Lee vows revenge. The next day, Densmore solicits Karen Brent, a blonde, rich American imprisoned for fighting with the local guerrillas who are attempting to overthrow the dictatorial government, and Karen, desperate to find any way to escape, acquiesces, much to Lee’s disgust. At dinner, Lee upbraids Karen for taking the easy way out and leaving the others to finish her work. The two engage in a fistfight, after which Logan sentences them to a day in “the oven,” a tall, metal box in which the half-naked women are forced to hold onto one another for support so that they do not touch the burning sides. After a grueling day, the women are released and shackled together at the wrist with a thick chain for transportation to a maximum security prison in the city. Lee taunts Karen about her guerrilla friends attempting to break her out, while Karen pointedly questions Lee about her arrest for narcotics. Although Lee admits that her boyfriend, Vic Cheng, a local crime lord, is the biggest drug dealer on the island, she asserts that she was framed. The bus carrying the women is escorted by only a few guards, as the matrons are expecting to be met halfway by Captain Cruz and his police force. Before the police arrive, however, the revolutionaries strike and kill Logan and several other prison guards, while Lee and Karen strangle Densmore to death with their chain. Before Lee and Karen can reach them, the guerrillas come under fire from the police, and the women flee into the countryside alone and still shackled together. Karen asserts that she must rejoin her group by the next night in order to secure a shipment of arms, but Lee retorts that the only reason she had lived with Cheng, who runs a large stable of prostitutes, was to embezzle enough money from him to escape, and that her contact is waiting to take her off the island at the opposite end from where Karen needs to be. They quickly tire of fighting, while at the scene of the ambush, Cruz is upbraided by Galindo, a government official who insists that the women be captured so that they can be questioned about their cohorts. As the police set up roadblocks, Karen and Lee see two nuns walking along and, after overpowering them, don their habits and catch a ride with a drunken truck driver. When the truck stops suddenly, however, the women grab the dashboard, revealing their manacles, and must then knock out the man and steal his truck. In the city, Cheng is torturing Juana, one of his prostitutes who was friendly with Lee, and after ascertaining that Juana does not know where Lee is headed, sends his thugs in search of her and Karen. After the truck breaks down, Lee and Karen board a bus, and are still arguing about their destination when a police roadblock forces the vehicle to stop. A suspicious police officer is eyeing the women when they panic and create a ruckus, then escape in the confusion. In the brush, Karen agrees that they should go to Los Robles, Lee’s choice, as it is closer than Karen’s destination of San Carlos, and once they are there, Lee’s friends can free them. A frustrated Cruz goes to a nearby town to contact criminal Ruben, a rival of Cheng who loves American country music and cowboy outfits. Cruz offers to give him the $10,000 reward for the women’s capture if the criminal finds them, and Ruben, realizing that Cruz has neither the manpower nor the necessary knowledge of the area, agrees. Back in the countryside, Karen and Lee find a mechanic’s shed but just as they are priming a blowtorch to unfetter themselves, the mechanic, Luis, awakens from his drunken slumber. Although they try to charm him, Luis grows aggressive and attacks Karen, attempting to rape her. Lee stabs Luis with a chisel but before Karen can use the blowtorch, they hear the baying of dogs, signaling the arrival of Ruben and his men, and burn down the shed to distract their pursuers. During the night, the guerrillas, led by Karen’s boyfriend Ernesto, steal Ruben’s dogs to aid in their own search for the fugitives. In the morning, an infuriated Ruben discovers that his dogs have been stolen and alerts his men to watch the nearby river in case the women try to cross it. The exhausted women are heading for the river but are unable to shake the dogs trailing them. Unaware that the scent hounds now belong to Ernesto, Karen throws them off the track by placing her underwear on the head of a farm dog and sending it in the opposite direction. Upon catching the decoy, Ernesto laughingly deduces what Karen has done, and that she is going toward the river. Near the water, the women knock out a man in possession of a small skiff and are crossing the shallow river when they hear gunfire erupt nearby. There, Ernesto and his men are engaged in a gun battle with Ruben, who has found them with his dogs. As the women make their way to shore, Ernesto kills Ruben, and the rest of his gang scatters. While they rest in an orchard, Karen and Lee hear Ernesto calling to them, and Karen runs into his arms. After shooting apart the chain binding the women, Ernesto agrees to continue to Los Robles, where Lee’s fisherman friend Leonardo is waiting with a boat and the $40,000 she stole from Cheng. Before they arrive, however, Cheng and his men have staked out the dock and are lying in wait. Karen and Lee drive up, and although Lee urges Karen to return to her “silver spoon” home, Karen demurs and tells Lee to enjoy her new life. The women smile their farewells and Lee joins Leonardo. As they head for the boat, a shootout between the gangsters and revolutionaries breaks out, with Karen fighting alongside her compatriots. Lee runs to help Karen when she is wounded in the leg, but Karen urges her onward. Once safely onboard, however, Lee watches in horror as Karen is gunned down. Enraged, Cheng attempts to drive through the guerrillas, and although he succeeds in wounding Ernesto, the revolutionary leader blows up Cheng’s jeep, killing him. After Ernesto has escaped, Cruz arrives and, surveying the bloodied bodies on the dock, comments to a subordinate, “It’s better to win, isn’t it?” +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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