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Watermelon Man (1970)

Howard Caine , Godfrey Cambridge  |  R |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Howard Caine, Godfrey Cambridge, Mae Clarke, Donna Dubrow, Frank Farmer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 14, 2004
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002KPI1O
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,498 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Watermelon Man" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Introduction by Melvin Van Peebles

Editorial Reviews

Godfrey Cambridge stars in this outrageous comedy directed by maverick filmmaker Melvin Van Peeples(Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song). Jeff Gerber (Cambridge) seems to have it all: a successful career, a nice suburban home, a progressive-thinking wife (Academy Award(r)-winner Estelle Parsons, Best Supporting Actress, Bonne and Clyde, 1967) and two cute children. But he's also a loud-mouthed racist who wakes up one morning to discover he's turned into a black man. The doctor's have no explanation and no cure for his sudden change. Suddenly, Gerber is a white bigot in black skin who has todeal with a shocked family, intolerant neighbors, cold shoulders at the office and a back seat on the bus!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific black-sploitation film! July 11, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I watched this movie late one Saturday night and have not been able to get it out of my head ever since. The pastel colors and the soundtrack were terrific. Even though I am a white man, there for making me the victim of this movie, I simply loved it! It seems that other members of my race did not seem to enjoy it as well as I did, but the fact is, you have to look past the fact that this movie really is "politically incorrect." I really am not much of a judge on how black people are treated today, but I know that this film really showed me how different my own life would be if I were a black man livingin the late-sixties/early-seventies. It just proves that all that we in the magical world of white were really true. We actually were exploiting these people, just for the color of their skin. Maybe, just maybe, the world isn't such a pretty place after all. Great film! I whole-heartedly recommend it.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars His white bread world just got turned upside brown! September 19, 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Being interested in many types of film, I saw the DVD release of Watermelon Man (1970) and it was the title that caught my eye. Directed by African-American film pioneer Melvin Van Peebles and starring Godfrey Cambridge (The President's Analyst, Cotton Comes to Harlem) and Estelle Parsons (Bonnie and Clyde), Watermelon Man relates an interesting tale of what happens when a bigoted white man wakes one day to find his skin has since turned black.

As the film begins, we meet the Gerbers, a typical white family living in a typical white neighborhood. There's Jeff Gerber (Cambridge), the head of the family, who make his living selling insurance, Althea Gerber (Parsons), Jeff's somewhat liberal wife, and their two children. One evening Jeff awakes to discover he's no longer white, and believes he suffering a bad dream. This turns out not to be the case, as Jeff retains his new skin color into the next day. He begins to look for answers, maybe it can be washed off if he showers for a lengthy period of time, or maybe the new color of his skin is attributed to spending too much time in his tanning bed, but there appears to be no real cause for what happened. Unable to hide from the outside world forever, Jeff ventures back into his regular routine, and soon learns that the color of his skin isn't the only thing that's changed. He finds racist attitudes prevalent throughout his workday and home life, as now, the system of which he used to be a part of, begins to turn on him, effectively forcing him to `walk a mile in another man's shoes'.

I really enjoyed this different sort of film, as it was an unusual blend of satire and social commentary.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films ever made!!!! February 8, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I am sure that a better film depicting the stereotypes that, we as black people must endure will never be made. It was truly a cinematic breakthrough. Considering the time that the film was made in, I am surprised that it was allowed to be made especially by the movie company that produced it. Godfrey Cambridge was sheer genius in this film. The kids were worth watching. I never laughed at any other movie as much as a laughed at this satire.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A ground-breaking must see! June 6, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
The first time I saw this movie was back in the late 70's. At that time I felt that every American should see this movie. Now, over 20 years later, I still hold to that belief. Why, because this is a classic movie that skilfully mixes a message with a great story and wonderful performances all the way around. A movie like this would probably not get the "green light" from a major studio today. Godfrey Cambridge plays Jeff Gerber, the bigoted insurance salesman living in happy seclusion in suburbia. One night he goes to bed an average white guy, and the next day he wakes up an african american and truly a rasin in the sun. Versions of this storyline have been utilized before (from James Whitmore in "Black Like Me" to that really bad C. Thomas Howell move), but none can hold a candle to the artistry of this movie. It will make you laugh out loud while simultaneously making you think about yourself and your own values. It will take you through the journey of one man's struggle for self acceptance, and leave you asking why eveyone else couldn't get over themselves like he had to. On top of that, it is very clever and will drop subtle hints early in the movie that are easliy missed untill referred to later (like Jeff Gerber's full name, Jefferson Washington Gerber). Melvin Van Peebles (yes Mario's father for the uninitiated) is fully on his game for this movie, and he coaxes superior performances out of the cast.
If you are white, watch it with a person of color and talk about it after the movie is over. It will probably be one of the most powerful conversations you have ever had. If you're african american, just watch the film and prepare for a great deal of identification and head shaking. They just don't make movies like this anymore.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and Funny..... March 30, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
One night my friend and his brother were watching a bad movie and making fun of it. My friend Rich said that he had a funny movie called The Watermellon Man. I told him to get it without knowing anything about it. I soon relized that this was a very good film. The movie is directed by Melvin Van Peeples and it stars Godfrey Cambridge as Jeff Gerber a average white man who does not understand anything about minorities except they are good fodder for his bad jokes. Gerber races the bus everyday to save some money, grabs his assistant at office and generally is oblivious to the rest of the world. He is not a bad man just ignorant. One night Gerber awakes to find that he has become a black man. After scrubbing for hours, and attacking the delivery man of his new tanning lamp he accept's the fact and goes out of the house. Now he deals with all the bigotry that he himself acted with. There are some really funny parts to this film, like when his kids ask him if he is going to race the bus and he yells "Never bring up the race issue agian." By the end of the movie you have realized that he will not be turned back and is a black man forever. You also see how different he is treated one day to the next. As a white man he is left alone by the police and never questioned about his ethecs. As a black man he finds it different. The end can be a little confusing but is can be forgiven for giving us a great movie. I would like to see this remade someday.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Older movie but really funny
Published 5 days ago by David L. Dove
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film. Very funny well acted and directed
Excellent film.Very funny well acted and directed.
Published 15 days ago by Margaret Frost
2.0 out of 5 stars Save your $
Not for me
Published 29 days ago by Joe Becker
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by George King
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very funny. Lives turned upside down a bigot becomes his worst nightmare.
Published 1 month ago by monica lee
5.0 out of 5 stars late rate
I couldn't find this anywhere. But eventually, found it on amazon. Bought it for a friend some time ago. Enjoyed the purchase and will know where to look next time.
Published 3 months ago by Ardell C Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Watched it Again After I Grew Up
I first saw this movie in 1970 when it came out. I was only 11. Movies take on a different meaning when you've grown up. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Brendon C Fox
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious must see
This movie is hilarious ! I was born in the late 60's, I was not allowed to watch movies with this type of content as a young adult. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Devona Hendricks
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Comedy
I saw this movie on television as a young man. Unfortunately, due the political correctness of today, it is no longer shown on television because of its racial message. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Taurus454
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good and Relevant Film.
The unfortunate thing is that this film is as relevant today as when it was made in 1970. Van Peebles have us question ourselves and ask what will happen to white people if they... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Caglevision
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