6.6/10
1,194
28 user 18 critic

Watermelon Man (1970)

R | | Comedy, Drama | 27 May 1970 (USA)
An extremely bigoted white man finds out the hard (and somewhat humorous) way what it's like being a black man, firsthand!

Director:

Writer:

Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

After saving a Black Panther from some racist cops, a black male prostitute goes on the run from "the man" with the help of the ghetto community and some disillusioned Hells Angels.

Director: Melvin Van Peebles
Stars: Melvin Van Peebles, Simon Chuckster, Hubert Scales
Action | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

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 »

Director: Ossie Davis
Stars: Godfrey Cambridge, Raymond St. Jacques, Calvin Lockhart
Action | Drama | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A black man plays Uncle Tom in order to gain access to CIA training, then uses that knowledge to plot a new American Revolution.

Director: Ivan Dixon
Stars: Lawrence Cook, Janet League, Paula Kelly
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.1/10 X  

Film version of Melvin Van Peebles' Broadway musical. A pair of devil-bats take human form and crash a Harlem house party in an attempt to break it up. But somehow, their attempts to ruin the party fail.

Director: Melvin Van Peebles
Stars: Thomas Anderson, Jay Van Leer, Robert Dunn
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A black American soldier is demoted for fraternizing with a white girl in France.

Director: Melvin Van Peebles
Stars: Harry Baird, Pierre Doris, Christian Marin
Action | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

At Madame Zenobia's illegal nightclub, when Steve Jackson and Wardell Franklin get robbed of their wallets containing a winning lottery ticket, they set out to recover it.

Director: Sidney Poitier
Stars: Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, Harry Belafonte
Truck Turner (1974)
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Truck is a bounty hunter who gets a job to track down a guy named Gator. When he and his partner find him, a chase ensues and Gator is killed. This makes Gator's woman, Dorinda, very angry ... See full summary »

Director: Jonathan Kaplan
Stars: Isaac Hayes, Yaphet Kotto, Alan Weeks
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

When two troublemaking female prisoners (one a revolutionary, the other a former harem-girl) can't seem to get along, they are chained together and extradited for safekeeping. The women, ... See full summary »

Director: Eddie Romero
Stars: Pam Grier, Margaret Markov, Sid Haig
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Oregon, 1980: Jane, Elaine and Louise are all feeling the effects of inflation and cannot afford, as the title states, the high cost of living. Jane cannot afford a babysitter or get ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Scheerer
Stars: Susan Saint James, Jane Curtin, Jessica Lange
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1.7/10 X  

A rapper finds himself possessed by the soul of a dead fashion designer; frequently switching personalities.

Director: Melvin Van Peebles
Stars: Mario Van Peebles, Glenn Athaide, Rick Aviles
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A gangster in Harlem must rescue his ex-wife, who has been kidnapped by the Mafia.

Director: Larry Cohen
Stars: Fred Williamson, Julius Harris, Gloria Hendry
Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A semi-autobiographical story about an adventurer whose journeys take him from Harlem to the high seas and back again.

Director: Melvin Van Peebles
Stars: Seth Austin, Shelley R. Bonus, Paul Krasner
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Jeff Gerber
...
Althea Gerber
...
Mr. Townsend
D'Urville Martin ...
Bus Driver
...
Kay Kimberly ...
Erica
...
Dr. Wainwright
Scott Garrett ...
Burton Gerber
...
Janice Gerber
Irving Selbst ...
Mr. Johnson
...
Delivery Man
Lawrence Parke ...
1st Passenger
Karl Lukas ...
Policeman #2
Ray Ballard ...
3rd Passenger
Robert Dagny ...
2nd Passenger
Edit

Storyline

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 matt-282

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A very funny thing happened to Jeff Gerber. It won't happen to you, so you can laugh. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

R

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 May 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Night the Sun Came Out  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Mae Clarke's final film. See more »

Quotes

Jeff Gerber: Come on girls get back to work or you'll be back out on the streets working for real money.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Baadasssss! (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Where Are The Children
Written by Melvin Van Peebles
Performed by Estelle Parsons
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

brilliant precursor to "Sweetback"
8 September 2000 | by (Boston, Massachusetts) – See all my reviews

"Watermelon Man" might throw off quite a few people with its style of cinema. It's a work of the grandfather of American independent film, Melvin Van Peebles, and with that should come a certain measure of respect. Van Peebles may not have produced dozens of films, but he certainly turned the industry on its head 30 years ago. This is an interesting arrangement on the business side- hot off the European success of "The Story Of A Three Day Pass", Warner Brothers takes on filmmaker Van Peebles for a feature film. The story of Van Peebles versus the company in filming is a conte in itself, but the film remains poignant and striking in its cinematography and theme. Aggressive editing of both film and musical inserts highlight the subtle comedy and pure desperation of the story of a bigot who wakes up Black and watches the world turn against him.

It's something of a manic ride, but Cambridge gives it all the human character it can stand. His antagonist-cum-protagonist role gives you 360 degrees of frustration and forced humility. Van Peebles presses the more unreal moments into a sub-psychedelic form. Printed messages, color fills, choppy eye-effecting shots and that insistent score remind you that this absurdity is all too real. But ongoing themes such as "He stole something.. we don't know what yet," are darkly hilarious as is Cambridge's sharp wit.

"Watermelon Man" is serious film that will still make you laugh at times. This is not the kick-in-the-establishment-a** that "Sweetback" is, but it's an important step on the way. Alongside films such as "Cotton Comes To Harlem" (also with the superb Cambridge) and "Putney Swope," this is an important part of the early end of the Black film explosion.

Look for cameos by songwriter-actor Paul Williams as an employer and Melvin Van Peebles himself as a painter. Black cast staple (and director of "Dolemite") D'Urville Martin is also on hand as a bus driver in some of the film's funniest scenes.


11 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Office girl that likes him... skinypupp
Brief scene that puzzles me... byczekfemale
cambridge MADE this movie teejay6682
PARTRIDGE FAMILY HOUSE!!! definitedoll
It's going to be on TV! sirleucelot
On Antenna TV! butterfly5700
Discuss Watermelon Man (1970) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?