Cheryl is young, Black, and lesbian, working in Philadelphia with her best friend Tamara and consumed by a film project: to make a video about her search for a Black actress from Philly who... See full summary »
In contrast to most of the violence-laden "blaxploitation" films of the period, this low-budget effort eschews exploitation for humanity and domestic drama. Leonard Jackson plays a barber ... See full summary »
Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson are two black cops with a reputation for breaking the odd head. Both are annoyed at the success of the Reverend Deke O'Mailey who is selling trips ... See full summary »
Raymond St. Jacques,
Based on the true story of a white reporter who, at the height of the civil-rights movement, temporarily darkened his skin so that he could experience the realities of a black man's life in the segregated South.
Roscoe Lee Browne
Sequel to Cotton comes to Harlem. Another bad influence is hitting Harlem and Gravedigger and Coffin Ed are the two cops who will stop it. Charleston Blue was a prohibition era black ... See full summary »
Raymond St. Jacques,
Peter De Anda
A closed-minded conservative couple masquerade as liberal do-gooders in late 60's France. With orders piling up at their bistro, The Full Belly, Loretta and Henri, self-described "pillars ... See full summary »
Melvin Van Peebles
Meiji U Tum'si
Jeff Gerber, an insurance agent, lives in a typical suburban neighborhood. He is also both racist and a fitness freak. But Jeff's bigoted world of taunting and harassing black people on and off the job is turned upside down when his skin inexplicably turns dark overnight. As Jeff tries to come to terms with this unexplained phenomenon that has befallen him, he soon becomes the victim himself when all of his friends and neighbors suddenly shun and harass him. This puts a strain on his marriage and loyal wife Althea, who begins to crack under the pressure. When all medical attempts to change his skin back to his former color fail, Jeff accepts that Kharma has caught up with him. Jeff tries to see the light of being a persecuted black man in this cruel and segregated world with the help of some of some new black friends, some of whom were people he, as a white man, taunted and harassed. Written by
I'm colored, Mr. Townsend. I'm a Negro.
Gerber, what the hell have you been doing - sitting under a sunlamp?
Oh that's the nicest thing you ever said to me, sir.
Did you get that tan in just the two days you were out?
Yes, yes I did - uh, the secret is soy sauce - lots and lots of soy sauce.
Don't you think you overdid it a bit?
Yes... yes I do, I really do. It - it was a frightening experience.
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Melvin Van Peebles' Watermelon Man starring Godfrey Cambridge provides plenty of ironic humor concerning stereotypes
Continuing to review African-Americans in film in chronological order for Black History Month, we're still in 1970 when director Melvin Van Peebles makes his first major studio feature having previously done a critically acclaimed independent one called Story of a Three Day Pass. He casts comedian Godfrey Cambridge as Jeff Gerber who we initially meet as an obnoxious white insurance man-along with wife Althea (Estelle Parsons) and their two kids of different genders-who likes to run when leaving for his job in order to beat the bus. By the way, the light-skinned makeup on Cambridge is about as convincingly white on him as it was on Eddie Murphy in the "White Like Me" short film he did on "Saturday Night Live", that is, not much. Anyway, when the change comes, well, that's when all hell breaks loose! Now, knowing what I know about ironic humor concerning stereotypes, I found the whole thing just a little over-the-top and, you know what? I also found the whole thing hilarious! I mean, how can you not laugh at the attempts Godfrey keeps making to turn himself "back" like drinking lots of milk or putting his face in plaster. Plus, there's many funny sudden turns from now-"brothers" like the bus driver played by D'Urville Martin who claims to be Hispanic or Mantan Moreland as the counterman at his regular eatery who, when asked to look at his skin, says, "I don't need to look at your skin, I can see my own!" And wait till you see how Three Stooges regular supporting player Emil Sitka reacts when he gets attacked by Jeff over some new sunlamps! Not to mention Jeff's bed scenes with a flirtatious secretary named Erica (Kay Kimberly). I think I've said enough so all I'll say now is that Van Peebles provides much funny stuff from Herman Raucher's script in addition to his own contributions with his occasionally distorted score. So on that note, Watermelon Man comes highly recommended. P.S. It's quite interesting seeing who's also in this movie besides those I've already mentioned like singer/songwriter Paul Williams-here credited with the middle initial H-as an employment clerk or a young girl named Erin Moran-later to portray the teen Joanie Cunningham on "Happy Days"-as daughter Janice Gerber.
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