Films 1960s and 1970s

Mokae entered films with the sublime A World of Strangers, and then a menacing role in The Comedians.

Zakes Mokae A World of Strangers

A World of Strangers/Dilemma

Directed by Henning Carlsen in 1962 based on a novel by Nadine Gordimer. Also called Dilemma. A white man comes to South Africa to work at a local publisher. He meets Mokae, playing a black intellectual in an apartheid system. A youthful Mokae gives one of his best performances, recognising the prejudice of people around him, and intelligent enough to rise above it, but still aware he can only go so far. There was no permission to make the film, so it was filmed illegally, with hidden cameras on the streets of South Africa. This gives a vivid realism to the photography in scenes such as the people going to work in the morning. Recommended.

A World of Strangers   Zakes Mokae in A World of Strangers   Zakes Mokae A World of Stangers



Zakes Mokae Darling


Directed by John Schlesinger with Dirk Bogarde and Julie Christie. 1965. A bit part for Mokae as one of the party guests.

Zakes Mokae in Darling



Zakes Mokae Comedians

The Comedians

Directed by Peter Glenville with Burton and Taylor plus Alec Guinness, Lillian Gish, James Earl Jones. 1967. A too faithful adaptation of Graham Greene's novel (by Greene himself) and the start of Mokae´s role in voodoo films. Mokae is convincing as a member of the Tonton Macout, the hit squad of the ruling junta. In a famous scene, based on a true incident, they steal the coffin at the funeral of a dissident. Mokae´s role has virtually no dialogue, which fits the deep menace of his role, dark glasses and expressionless.

Harry Dansby says "While the TonTons Macoute is about as amusing as Hilter’s SS, I have to give credit to the late South African actor Zakes Mokae (of “The Serpent and the Rainbow” fame) for creating an all time great villainous screen presence in the role of the TonTons Macoute killer “Michel”. He is absolutely terrifying despite his diminutive size – his mere presence indicates murder like an angel of death and it would be worth the time of any horror film fan to check this out in spite of his relatively brief screen time." (from

Zakes Mokae in The Comedians



Zakes Mokae Fragment of Fear

Fragment of Fear

Directed by Richard C. Sarafian in 1970, starring David Hemmings.  A murder mystery starting in Pompeii. Very boring and pretentious with a poor screenplay by Paul Dehn and mediocre direction with many scenes too clearly set in a studio.  There are a few good film noir shots by director of photography Oswald Morris but he cannot sustain it and most shots are predictable. Where is Zakes Mokae?  He is not in the credits, but I think he appears for seconds an hour into the film leaving a club, though as his head is turned it is hard to say.

Fragment of Fear Zakes Mokae


Zakes Mokae The River Niger

The River Niger

Directed by Krishna Shah, starring James Earl Jones. 1976.  A bad film, with poor to bad acting and a boring script.  It has nothing to do with Africa, the title refers to a very trite poem by the main character.  Actually it is set in middle-class black America, with a proud son returning from Vietnam.  But gangsterism complicates matters.  Mokae is credited as "Dutch", but despite many viewings (pity me- the film is so bad) I can't find him- any hints gratefully received.



Zakes Mokae One in a Million  

One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story

Directed by Winston Graham, 1978. A true life baseball story.  Ron LeFlore as a child gets involved in crime and is soon in prison. Here things starts badly but soon (a few minutes later) he starts playing baseball and becomes the prison's star convict, eventually emerging as a famous baseball star.  This is a poorly directed film, with no flow, stilted scenes and sentimental "no mamma, no more food" type goody goody dialogue.  In this tedious film there is only one original image: the face of a small fan reflected in LeFlore´s dark glasses.  Mokae is a fellow prisoner, finally rooting for him in front of a prison television as LeFlore moves to baseball stardom.

Zakes Mokae in One in a Million: the Ron LeFlore Story



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