IMDb > Watermelon Man (1970)
Watermelon Man
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Watermelon Man (1970) More at IMDbPro »

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User Rating:
6.5/10   1,287 votes »
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Popularity: ?
Up 4% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Herman Raucher (written by)
View company contact information for Watermelon Man on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
27 May 1970 (USA) See more »
The Uppity Movie. See more »
An extremely bigoted white man finds out the hard (and somewhat humorous) way what it's like being a black man, firsthand! Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Nominated for BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win See more »
User Reviews:
No-one liked him, now they hate him! See more (28 total) »


  (in credits order)

Godfrey Cambridge ... Jeff Gerber

Estelle Parsons ... Althea Gerber

Howard Caine ... Mr. Townsend

D'Urville Martin ... Bus Driver

Mantan Moreland ... Counterman
Kay Kimberly ... Erica

Kay E. Kuter ... Dr. Wainwright
Scott Garrett ... Burton Gerber

Erin Moran ... Janice Gerber
Irving Selbst ... Mr. Johnson

Emil Sitka ... Delivery Man
Lawrence Parke ... 1st Passenger
Karl Lukas ... Policeman #2
Ray Ballard ... 3rd Passenger
Robert Dagny ... 2nd Passenger

Paul Williams ... Employment Office Clerk (as Paul H. Williams)
Ralph Montgomery ... Drugstore Boss
Charles Lampkin ... Dr. Catlin
Vivian Rhodes ... Gladys

Erik L. Nelson ... Doorman (as Erik Nelson)
Matthias Uitz ... Cab Driver
Rhodie Cogan ... Mrs. Johnson
Donna Dubrow ... Receptionist

Frank Farmer ... Andy Brandon
Hazel Medina ... Widow
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ron Pinkard

Mae Clarke ... Old Woman (uncredited)
Clark Ross ... Townsman (uncredited)

Almira Sessions ... Woman on Bus (uncredited)

Melvin Van Peebles ... Sign Painter (uncredited)

Directed by
Melvin Van Peebles 
Writing credits
Herman Raucher (written by)

Produced by
John B. Bennett .... producer
Leon Mirell .... executive producer
Original Music by
Melvin Van Peebles 
Cinematography by
W. Wallace Kelley (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Carl Kress 
Art Direction by
Malcolm C. Bert 
Sydney Z. Litwack 
Set Decoration by
John Burton 
Makeup Department
Virginia Jones .... hair stylist
Ben Lane .... makeup supervisor
Production Management
Sheldon Schrager .... unit production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Sheldon Schrager .... assistant director
Sound Department
Les Fresholtz .... sound
John H. Newman .... sound editor (as John Newman)
Luke Wolfram .... sound editor
Camera and Electrical Department
Carl Manoogian .... key grip
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Gene Ashman .... wardrobe
Edna Taylor .... wardrobe
Music Department
Ralph James Hall .... music editor (as Ralph Hall)
Robert Matthews .... orchestrator
Mike Deasy .... musician (uncredited)
Other crew
Ivan Beckoff .... assistant to producer
Marshall Schlom .... script supervisor
Cassius Weathersby .... production assistant (uncredited)

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"The Watermelon Man" - USA (video box title)
"Человек-арбуз" - Soviet Union (Russian title)
"A Noite em que o Sol Brilhou" - Brazil (imdb display title)
"Ein Mann sieht schwarz" - Germany (première title)
"L'uomo caffellatte" - Italy
"O Dia Em Que o Sol Brilhou" - Brazil (TV title)
"Plötsligt en natt blev jag svart" - Sweden (imdb display title)
See more »
100 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
USA:R (certificate #22400)

Did You Know?

Mae Clarke's final film.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 »
Movie Connections:
Where Are The ChildrenSee more »


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20 out of 23 people found the following review useful.
No-one liked him, now they hate him!, 29 January 2000
Author: freemanist from Suffolk, England

Somewhat unevenly charts the journey of a successful, loud and bigoted insurance salesman's transition from loathed go-getter to loathed gone-goner. The early twist in the tale, allows an opportunity to see a strong central character face a new challenge. However, sadly, the storyline passes up the chance to see a fighter fighting and the direction becomes bogged down in a realisation that Gerber is beaten from the very moment he is plunged into what the film perceives as an underclass. A particular shame, therefore, as it declares race crossover to be a sentence as opposed to an alternative - there is no real optimism afforded to Gerber after the key white/black event and the film might have been stronger with such an exploration.

The film can be disturbing; but with slick,in your face, stateside put-downs 'The Watermelon Man' certainly enters a sensitive subject area head-first and allows the viewer to make an early judgement.

Whilst the storyline delivers meagre reward in terms of development, there is enough here to warrant a recommendation. Cambridge is outstanding as the hounder who becomes the hounded and the spine of the film is its humour – bordering on the cheap for sure, but funny, often hilarious and providing the piece with an underlying energy. Racing the bus to work on foot, crudely separating the mugs from their money, learning to take hate on the chin – its all here.

The strength of the final ceremony/scene smacks of eventual acceptance, a sense of belonging and possibly a new way forward; this will shock many as it is bitter-sweet, turning laughter into cold realism. Perhaps Van Peebles was taking the easy option? I think a sequel would have been a fitting reward.

I rate it highly, even after considering its faults.


UPDATED REVIEW: Today is 1 March 2005 and, courtesy of USPS, Amazon/ and Travel Inn West 42nd St, NYC (long story…), I have now received the DVD of this film. I first saw it in the early 1980's and have been raving on about it ever since, saying to anybody that wanted to listen, that it was hysterically funny. It still cannot be purchased directly in England.

So today I watched it again, in the new high definition print. I want to amend my original review……

The film made me feel guilty about how much I laughed when I first saw it. Yes, it still has great comic moments but there is so much more to it. Scene 11 'property values', sees Jeff Gerber's formerly pleasant neighbours confront him at home and they offer him $100,000 for him to move out of the area. This scene made me feel sickened. Firstly because it shows just how bad the racial situation was in America (surely it has improved since then??) and secondly because, on the first viewing all those years ago, I just didn't "get it" – I saw an overall humour, where I should have seen the out and out bigotry, ignorance and sadness. After this pivotal scene Gerber tells his boss to stick his job and he moves on to get his own insurance business, settle into a community that he likes, reforms a long-distance dialogue with his blinkered wife and simply get on with being Jeff Gerber. In that respect my original review is seriously flawed as he is not completely beaten by race crossover at all – in fact he makes it work for him and a lot of positives come out in the final analysis. It uplifted me.

Hey, enough of the deepness! It is still a great film to own, share and talk about, even after its flaws are considered. I just felt that I hadn't appreciated the finer points of it until now, many years later.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (28 total) »

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