6.6/10
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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:

His white bread world just turned upside brown! 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:

,  »
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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

Delivery man: That guy needs a sun lamp like Fred Astaire needs dancing lessons.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Watermelon Woman (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Love, That's America
Written and performed by Melvin Van Peebles
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A very good, sadly forgotten satire
16 May 2004 | by (NYC) – See all my reviews

Melvin Van Peebles' big Hollywood film is a very smart, funny, and in the end tragic satire of race relations in America c. 1970. Today, it doesn't get nearly the hoopla that "Sweet Sweetback" does, but in a lot of ways it's a better movie. Biting satire is often a better way to express righteous anger than simply getting all righteous, and this is an example: under the laughs, this is a deeply angry film.

Godfrey Cambridge is magnificent in his two-tone role, and the supporting cast (including a couple of routines by the great Mantan Moreland) is also very fine. The rage underpinning the whole story doesn't find full, overt expression until the very last scene, which presages Van Peebles' leap into more obviously black revolutionary politics in "Sweetback." A very good, very funny, important film that deserves to be much better known today than it is.


24 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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