- Dorothy Dandridge
- Curd Jürgens
- Alex Cressan
"Tamango" is a rousing and intelligent tale of a slave ship revolt in the 18th century. It strives to avoid transparent moralizing and overt stereotypes, particularly by placing the gorgeous Dorothy Dandridge in the pivotal role of the Captain's mistress. She must decide whether to send him to his certain demise among her fellow Africans (as Leonard Maltin avers, it's way ahead of its time). Perhaps this even-handedness is not all that surprising given the fact that it was directed by the blacklisted John Berry, who found refuge in France after helming several sensitive films noirs about the urban American underclass.
Most references give the film's literary source as a novella by French author Prosper Merimée. However, I recently stumbled upon an article in the "New York Times" (August 24, 2005) concerning a South African archaeologist who is combing a beach off Cape Horn for the wreck of a Dutch slave ship named the Meermin. The history given of this particular ship is pretty much a blow-by-blow description of this film (apart from the miscegenation), even down to the very details of how the slaves were given their chance, and how the surviving crew foiled them at one point. I can't remember if the film acknowledges any true-to-life origins, but this shivery narrative certainly lends the movie even more credence.