5.6/10
2,178
25 user 2 critic

Carbon Copy (1981)

When a rich white corporate executive finds out that he has an illegitimate black son, things start falling apart for him at home, at work and in his social circles.

Director:

Michael Schultz

Writer:

Stanley Shapiro
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
George Segal ... Walter Whitney
Susan Saint James ... Vivian Whitney
Jack Warden ... Nelson Longhurst
Dick Martin ... Victor Bard
Denzel Washington ... Roger Porter
Paul Winfield ... Bob Garvey
Macon McCalman ... Tubby Wederholt
Vicky Dawson ... Mary Ann
Parley Baer ... Dr. Bristol
Vernon Weddle Vernon Weddle ... Wardlow
Edward Marshall Edward Marshall ... Freddie
Ed Call Ed Call ... Basketball Father
Angelina Estrada Angelina Estrada ... Bianca
Carmen Filpi ... Wino
Warren Munson ... 2nd Guard
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Storyline

A white corporate executive is surprised to discover that he has a black teen-age son who can't wait to be adopted into the almost exclusively white community of San Marino, California. Written by K. Rose <rcs@texas.net> and horrendous punctuation corrected by Brooks

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Any resemblance between Father and Son is purely hysterical. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

25 September 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Cara do Pai See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,451,286, 27 September 1981, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$9,566,593
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Black and White | Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is rarely shown on television, due to its racial content. See more »

Goofs

In a close shot of Walter and Rodger where in the Rolls Royce driving the rear view mirror is missing and then when they pulled out to a long shot the rear view mirror was back in place. See more »

Quotes

Walter Whitney: I'll shovel it. I'll live in it. But I won't take it.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Psych: Yang 3 in 2D (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
Written by Jimmy Cox
Performed by Bessie Smith
See more »

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User Reviews

 
My favorite culture clash comedy ever!
12 January 2005 | by leczornSee all my reviews

I first saw one scene of this largely forgotten movie on TV in the early '80s. A white man told his white wife that the black teenage boy with them was his son. She became hysterical and told her husband that God would never forgive him. He responded by saying "How do you know? Maybe he's pleased? Maybe God is black!" As a white kid about 12 years old, somehow I found "Maybe God is black" to be one of the funniest things I'd ever heard! Over the years, I quoted that line many times, mostly in arguments with my mother and maternal grandmother about inter-racial marriage. I supported it and they opposed it, though their opposition was out of fear of the social stigma rather than hatred for other races.

That scene was all that I ever saw of "Carbon Copy" until I was 19, when I saw it in a video store and rented it. I loved it but didn't see it again until getting the newly released DVD for Christmas last month. Now 34 and in an inter-racial marriage, I find the movie funnier than ever!

Now for my synopsis of the movie! Walter Whitney (played by George Segal) is a wealthy businessman who lives a high society lifestyle with his snobbish wife Vivian (Susan St. James) and his equally snobbish step-daughter Mary Ann (Vicky Dawson). That changes one day when a 17-year old black boy named Roger Porter (Denzel Washington in his first movie) arrives at Walter's office and, after an extensive display of crude behavior, cheerfully says "Hi, Daddy!"

It turns out that Roger was the product of Walter's relationship with a black woman, now dead, who he loved. But he left her when his longtime employer and now father-in-law Nelson Longhurst (Jack Warden) advised him that it would be harmful to his career to be with a black woman. It's also revealed that Walter changed his last name from Weisenthal to hide his Jewish ethnicity.

Walter is shocked to learn that he has a son and nervous about the way it might disrupt his life. But he attempts to help Roger by telling Vivian that he wants to adopt a poor child for the Summer to show him a better way of life. Vivian reluctantly agrees, then changes her mind shortly after meeting Roger, which leads to the scene that I mentioned to start this review.

Vivian proceeds to kick out Walter and her father fires him, takes his company Rolls Royce and his many job benefits. Walter learns that his total worth is the $68 in his wallet.

So Walter and Roger, the day after meeting, seek shelter together. They first check into a cheap motel and later move into an apartment in Watts while Walter looks for a new job. But in the town of San Marino, his reputation turns out to be ruined and out of desperation to make some quick cash, he ends up shoveling horse manure.

As the movie progresses, it's obvious that Walter regrets leaving Roger's mother. And now he must decide whether to keep Roger at a distance for the sake of social acceptance or try to make up for the mistakes of his past by attempting to build a close relationship with his son.

Throughout the movie, the interaction between Walter and Roger is fabulous. Though they are father and son, their lives have been radically different. Their cultures often clash and this results in many hilarious situations. The movie does a great job striking the very difficult balance between having fun with racial stereotypes but still condemning racism.

And during the last 15 minutes, when the movie makes the transition from comedy to drama, it does so surprisingly smoothly.

In conclusion, "Carbon Copy" gets my vote as the best culture clash comedy ever. I also consider it to be one of the most underrated movies ever. It's a great movie to watch for lots of big laughs. 9/10.


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