6.5/10
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32 user 21 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:

Melvin Van Peebles

Writer:

Herman Raucher
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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:
Godfrey Cambridge ... Jeff Gerber
Estelle Parsons ... Althea Gerber
Howard Caine ... Mr. Townsend
D'Urville Martin ... Bus Driver
Mantan Moreland ... Counterman
Kay Kimberly Kay Kimberly ... Erica
Kay E. Kuter ... Dr. Wainwright
Scott Garrett Scott Garrett ... Burton Gerber
Erin Moran ... Janice Gerber
Irving Selbst Irving Selbst ... Mr. Johnson
Emil Sitka ... Delivery Man
Lawrence Parke Lawrence Parke ... 1st Passenger
Karl Lukas Karl Lukas ... Policeman #2
Ray Ballard Ray Ballard ... 3rd Passenger
Robert Dagny 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 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 May 1970 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Night the Sun Came Out See more »

Filming Locations:

Burbank, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,500,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

D'Urville Martin not only plays the credited role of the Bus Driver, but also participant in the Yacht Club "riot" scene. See more »

Quotes

Jeff Gerber: [the neighbors are offering to buy the Gerbers' house] We like it here. All those friendly phone calls and at any time a nice rock could come crashing through the window to remind us that people are still thinking of us.
Mr. Johnson: 60,000, that's as high as we can go.
Jeff Gerber: Oh come on, try harder, 75.
Mr. Johnson: Alright 75, but that...
Jeff Gerber: You see that, you went higher. Now try 80.
Mr. Johnson: 75
Mr. Johnson: Ah come on, I'll make more than that from my watermelon patch in just one year. Not to mention the admissions from the revival meetin'.
Mr. Johnson: 80
Jeff Gerber: Now ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Watermelon Woman (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Watermelon Man Doesn't Spit out Any Seeds~~Wonderful Movie
14 March 2007 | by definitedollSee all my reviews

I first saw this film on television about 7-8 years ago. It was part of a "Heritage Network" movie special. This was hosted by Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis. I fell in love!!! I had to own this film!!! How much were they holding the film hostage for???? $20 dollars??? $100 dollars?? And so I waited for a few years. My father would keep saying to me "Aren't you going to buy that movie?" I'd say "Yeah Soon", but just didn't want to cough up the cash for it. Then it finally arrived on DVD in 2004 or so. I purchased it at Media Play. And I have watched it several times. I think that it's ahead of its time. Godfrey Cambridge plays a very disciplined white man with a nice white family. He puts on his sneakers and runs down the hill as exercise racing with the bus. Just the like the Yuppies of the 80's that wore sneakers to work then changed shoes. He was doing this in 1969.. He was an insurance man and he believed in exercise, family, all the values that this country was raging against in 1969. Then he wakes up one day and is black. All the showers in the world can't wash off the color. His whole universe changes. Some for the worse, some for the better. I have a whole new respect for Godfrey Cambridge from this film. A highly intelligent man in real life, Godfrey lets this shine through in this film. Especially poignant is when he is selling insurance to young black families. He talks straight to them, and doesn't patronize them. You will see this in the film. No hard sell, No baloney. Another tidbit that you will find interesting is that the house interior they used is the same one that they used for another famous television family.....THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY!!!!!! There is a small barely audible directors commentary with the film, and you have to listen carefully to really understand it. Seems that the film company did not treat Mr. Van Peebles very nicely. And I am putting this nicely as i can. Anyway it's a gem of a movie!!!!


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