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The Musings of an Eccentric Diva

Welcome to the Musings of an Eccentric Diva. My motto is: Giving Hollyweird movies the finger one movie at a time. Enter at your own risk (insert evil Vincent Price laughter here).
 


MOVIE REVIEW: The Watermelon Man 1970
Jeff Gerber (Godfrey Cambridge) has a loving wife Althea (Estella Parsons), two beautiful children and a lovely home in a nice neighborhood. He is a bit of a health nut and a big fan of self-tanning. Jeff gets his excitement by purposely chasing the bus every morning that takes him to his insurance salesman job, where most of his coworkers dread his very existence. Yep, he seems very content in his close-minded, bigoted world. All that changes when he wakes up one morning to discover that he has transformed into…gaspA BLACK MAN! Uh oh, not only does he have dark skin, he has nappy hair as well. Once Jeff realizes that he can’t remove his Blackness, he must learn how to accept and cope with his new ‘race’. No more spoilers from me y’all!

I kept this review short because after Jeff turns into Soul Brother #1 the rest of the film deals with his transition. After 37 years, this film has lost none of its zing. I watched it with my 17 year old daughter and she laughed her ass off with me, I was pleasantly surprised. I have seen this film many times and I find something new each with each viewing. Directed by Melvin Van Peebles, this film was made before his pivotal Sweet Sweetback’s Badass Song. Although I like Sweetback for its artistic merit and the back story behind the film, I enjoyed The Watermelon Man much more. It pretty much has the same message without all the violence and sex of the aforementioned. The Watermelon Man is much more aesthetically pleasing from a cinematic standpoint and the transfer to DVD is excellent. Godfrey Cambridge was my man! I adore him much more than the Magical Negro that is Sidney Poitier and never understood why he did not get more films roles before he passed away. Although the very dark complexioned Godfrey did not pass for a White man, he did a great job with the material given. The pasty, peach-colored makeup and blond wig are hilarious. This is his movie and he certainly seems to be enjoying every second of it. His long-suffering wife Althea played by Estella Parsons is a great window dressing for the Jeff character. I’m sure in 1970 it was highly controversial for a White woman to kiss a Black man onscreen. One of the funniest scenes in the film is when Jeff goes to the “Black” store to buy beauty products such as Afro Sheen and Ambii, haha! Jeff’s journey is not all comical either, some of the issues he faced teaches him humility, something he once lacked. If you enjoy films similar to Bamboozled and Drop Squad, you will certainly dig this one. You can certainly watch this film with your older children, as I mentioned before, my 17 year old LOVED it.


VERDICT:
3 1/2 Soul Claps

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