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!




Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

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



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Action | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 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
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
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
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.2/10 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
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
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
Putney Swope (1969)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Dark satire in which the token black man on the executive board of an advertising firm is accidentally put in charge. Renaming the business "Truth and Soul, Inc.", he replaces the tight ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Downey Sr.
Stars: Arnold Johnson, Stan Gottlieb, Allen Garfield
    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
Super Fly (1972)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

The daily routine of cocaine dealer Priest who wants to score one more super deal and retire.

Director: Gordon Parks Jr.
Stars: Ron O'Neal, Carl Lee, Sheila Frazier
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Documentary film-maker Bob Sanders and his wife Carol attend a group therapy session that serves as the backdrop for the opening scenes of the film. Returning to their Los Angeles home, the... See full summary »

Director: Paul Mazursky
Stars: Natalie Wood, Robert Culp, Elliott Gould
Cooley High (1975)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In 1964, a group of high school friends who live on the Near North Side of Chicago enjoy life to the fullest...parties, hanging out, meeting new friends. Then life changes for two of the ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Schultz
Stars: Glynn Turman, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Garrett Morris
Bellyful (2000)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.2/10 X  

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 »

Director: Melvin Van Peebles
Stars: Andréa Ferréol, Jacques Boudet, Meiji U Tum'si


Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeff Gerber
Althea Gerber
Mr. Townsend
D'Urville Martin ...
Bus Driver
Kay Kimberly ...
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


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


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


Comedy | Drama



Parents Guide:





Release Date:

27 May 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Night the Sun Came Out  »

Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Was released the same day as "Cotton Comes To Harlem" which also starred Godfrey Cambridge. See more »


Jeff Gerber: [sarcastically to co-workers] Make a list of all those articles that have been stolen, and any of you who have been raped - *please* - report to the dispensary. Any of you who are interested in tap dancing, gospel singing, boxing lessons - *please* - come into my office...
Jeff Gerber: Unclean! Unclean! - beware The Black Scourge! Double trouble, boil and trouble! Take your children - gather them - take them to the high ground!
See more »


Referenced in The Watermelon Woman (1996) See more »


Erica's Theme
Written by Melvin Van Peebles
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

An important (if dated) comedy
21 June 2010 | by (NYC) – See all my reviews

First - WHO's Godfrey Cambridge?!?! Yeah - he was a comedian. And a VERY funny one. Sigh.

OK, now that I've said that, let me make a couple of things understood. A lot of people who've written comments about this are either too young to remember the 60's/70's or are trying to relate to this film from today's perspective.

This film was written/directed by Melvin Van Peebles, who - at the time

  • was (and, by some - unfortunately) considered a 'controversial

(black) artist. Second; yes, the makeup is not as good as the wonderful job done on Eddie Murphy in various films/skits, or the Wayans' brothers, but - for the make-up tech of the day - it was VERY good (look at the scene in the beginning when Godfrey's exercising (naked!), and then going to the shower. I just watched it on HD, and it still holds up VERY well (and as an aside; I saw this film first when I was about 10 - on TV. I thought upon seeing it that REALLY was a white man who became black. So, just remember that while you might not think his make-up's up to snuff now, it sure did convince an earlier generation).

Understanding when this film was made, the 'situation' of race relations at the time, and the ability for a (black) artist like Mr. Van Peebles to MAKE this film is necessary in understanding how shocking this film was - in all those areas.

Yes - the film's a bit dated (but who isn't?). But watching this film - and understanding what I've just explained makes it all the more extraordinary. Alex P (miskatonic86), and Definitedoll (just to name a couple) are some of the few who understand this film's importance.

Mr. Cambridge is/was one of the best comics. His 'babbling' - or more accuratley, his riffing on a subject was part of his stand-up style (if you'd like to see Godfrey not as a 'babbling' person, but as a (slightly ominous - and funny) character, check him out in THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST, or in COTTON COMES TO HARLEM. , amongst other appearances.

He's sorely missed, by me and many others who've seen him either on such shows as ED SULLIVAN, THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW CAR 54 WHERE ARE YOU, THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, I SPY amongst MANY other shows. If not, you can see this huge talent's work on YouTube (YouTube's a GREAT resource for educating yourself about not current performers and artists. It's NOT just a place to look at ...cat's playing pianos, and other garbage).

As a glimpse (by a black artist!) into the 'white man's world,' and the world in general - at that time - Mr. Van Peebles should be given his deserved recognition (and Godfrey, we miss you!).

10 of 11 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
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: