James Mason admitted in interviews that he only made the film to make his alimony payments.
Edwin Edwards, Louisiana's Governor at the time, was cast as a gambler and several scenes were filmed but excised before release; upon advice from his public-relations staff, Edwards decided that the potential damage to his public image when the salacious content of the film was revealed would be too great.
Came out a month after Jaws (1975), yet still managed to garner enough box-office success to take its filmmakers completely by surprise.
Boxer Ken Norton turned down a $250,000 gate to fight Jerry Quarry to make the film.
Richard Fleischer repeatedly turned down Dino De Laurentiis' overtures to direct the film. He ultimately relented when he realized that the best way to make the film was to shoot it straight and tell the story as truthfully as he could.
Director Quentin Tarantino has cited this film and Showgirls (1995) as the only two instances "in the last twenty years [that] a major studio made a full-on, gigantic, big-budget exploitation movie". In Django Unchained (2012), Tarantino took the terminology of "Mandingo fighting" from the use of "a Mandingo" being a fine slave for breeding in the film.
The film was made and released about 18 years after its same-named source novel by Kyle Onstott's first publication in 1957. The sequel Drum (1976) by the same novelist was first published in 1962. The novels are known as the "Falconhurst Series," named for the Alabama plantation estate that is the book's central locale.
Sylvester Stallone appears as an extra, wearing a red hat, during a slave-execution scene. This film's star, Perry King, appears with Stallone in The Lords of Flatbush (1974).
The "Falconhurst" novel series in order of publication: Mandingo (1957), Drum (1962), Master of Falconhurst (1964), Falconhurst Fancy (1966), The Mustee (1967), Heir to Falconhurst (1968), Flight to Falconhurst (1971), Mistress of Falconhurst (1973), Six-Fingered Stud (1975), Taproots of Falconhurst (1978), Scandal of Falconhurst (1980), Rogue of Falconhurst (1983), Miz Lucretia of Falconhurst (1985), Mandingo Master (1986), and Falconhurst Fugitive (1988).
Timothy Bottoms, Beau Bridges, Jeff Bridges, and Jan-Michael Vincent turned down the role of Hammond Maxwell.
The sequel, Drum (1976), takes place around 15 years after the events of this movie.
Paul Benedict, who plays the trader Brownlee, must have really shocked people who recognized him from his television role at the time of the film's release: Harry Bentley, the neighbor in The Jeffersons (1975). In fact, the film's first sentence is him asking the price of a female slave and her infant.
In the sequel, Drum (1976), Ken Norton plays Drum, a different character than he portrayed in Mandingo (1975), where he played Mede (aka Ganymede). Similarly, actress Brenda Sykes, plays Ellen in the first film and Calinda in the second. However, actress Lillian Hayman portrayed the same character, Lucrezia Borgia, in both films.
According to author James Wolcott, Jim Brown declined a lead role, "sparing himself considerable personal indignity and James Mason's atrocious southern accent."
One of a number of 1970s productions about slavery; others are Roots (1977), Slavers (1977), Ashanti (1979), Drum (1976), Mandingo (1975), Huckleberry Finn (1974), Goodbye Uncle Tom (1971), Uncle Tom's Cabin (1977), A Woman Called Moses (1978), Roots: The Next Generations (1979), and The Fight Against Slavery (1975).
In 1961, the play "Mandingo" was written by Jack Kirkland, based on the novel by Kyle Onstott; it made its Broadway premiere on May 22, 1961 at the Lyceum Theatre. It closed after 8 performances.
The fifth and final collaboration between director Richard Fleischer and cinematographer Richard H. Kline.
At least a dozen personnel worked on both Drum (1976) and Mandingo (1975), including star Ken Norton, screenwriter Norman Wexler, actresses Brenda Sykes and Lillian Hayman, costume designer Ann Roth, and producer Dino De Laurentiis.