Melvin Van Peebles, Watermelon Man, 1970 (still); photo: courtesy of Alamy

Film

Watermelon Man

Part of Modern Cinema: Black Powers

Sunday, July 22, 2018

1 p.m.

Veteran stage and screen actor Godfrey Cambridge plays a white suburban bigot who wakes up one morning to find his skin has turned Black. Inspired by Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, and by John Howard Griffin’s autobiographical Black Like Me Van, Peebles first studio film was supposed to be a vehicle for a white actor exploring race in contemporary America, but the young director convinced the producers to hire Cambridge who appears in white face in the beginning of the film. Watermelon Man’s satire critiques the complacent middle class and its casual acceptance of racist attitudes.


Film Details

Country: USA
Language: English
Year: 1970
Running time: 100 min
Format: 35mm
Director: Melvin Van Peebles
Screenwriters: Herman Raucher
Producer: John B. Bennett
Cinematographer: W. Wallace Kelley
Editor: Carl Kress
Source: Swank/Sony Repertory


Films and schedules may be subject to change.

Modern Cinema’s Founding Supporters are Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein. Generous support is provided by Nion McEvoy and the Susan Wildberg Morgenstein Fund.

Community support for Black Powers: Reframing Hollywood is provided by the Museum of the African Diaspora.

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