6.6/10
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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!

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

The Uppity Movie. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

R

Parents Guide:

 »
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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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Melvin Van Peebles: The artist who letters Jeff Gerber's new office door. See more »

Quotes

Althea Gerber: You know... you know it's very strange. My mother always thought you were a little on the dark side - I mean she never came right out and *asked* me...
Jeff Gerber: Your mother is in no position to judge other people's races - the way her eyes slant up, my mother always thought she was Chinese!
Althea Gerber: ...silliest thing I ever heard.
Jeff Gerber: Oh yeah? - well then how come her feet are so small? And - and how come whenever you ask her when she was born she always says the Year of the Dragon? And how come she was always so ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Lakeview Terrace (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Great Guy
Written by Melvin Van Peebles
Slide Guitar by Ry Cooder
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A True Original
3 March 2006 | by (hollywood) – See all my reviews

I'd only seen "Watermelon Man" on late nite TV as a kid, obviously cut to hell, but the film always fascinated and disturbed me. I haven't seen it in literally 20 years yet I remember very specific scenes, particularly the amazing militant final scene. I finally picked up the beautiful DVD and my memory was correct. The movie is awkward in spots, but there's a vitality that pushes against the old-school studio vibe. And it still holds up as funny in many scenes. I like some of Peebles music cues although they are sometimes not apropos. There are some strong scenes dealing with suburban racial tensions and Godfrey Cambridge is terrific as he changes from a white bigot to a black man. The movie isn't as one-sided as some might think. One of my favorite films of the 70's. Check it out.


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