Watermelon Man

Director: Melvin Van Peebles
Screenwriters: Herman Raucher

Institute History

  • 1990 Sundance Film Festival


A bigoted white suburban American insurance salesman wakes up one morning to discover he has turned black. In one of Hollywood's odder transmogrification films, Godfrey Cambridge puts on whiteface in the first part of the picture, creating a stunningly bizarre effect. Once he has become Negro, his wife deserts him and he suffers a complete loss of personal identity. With dark black skin he can no longer function in middle-class society; he is harassed on all sides and finds his earlier, unthinking racism turning back on him.

Directed as a conventional Hollywood-studio domestic comedy, Watermelon Man seldom moves beyond the premise of its single race-reversal joke, hut it provides plenty of provocative visual and moral Juxtapositions.

Tuesday, January 23, 7:15 p.m.
Holiday Village Cinema II

Sunday, January 28, 8:00 p.m.
Egyptian Theatre


— Betsy McLane

Screening Details

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