Watermelon Man (1970)

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Watermelon Man: Directed by Melvin Van Peebles. With Godfrey Cambridge, Estelle Parsons, Howard Caine, D’Urville Martin. An extremely bigoted white man finds out the hard (and somewhat humorous) way what it’s like being a black man, firsthand!

“u0026quot;Watermelon Manu0026quot; might throw off quite a few people with its style of cinema. Itu0026#39;s a work of the grandfather of American independent film, Melvin Van Peebles, and with that should come a certain measure of respect. Van Peebles may not have produced dozens of films, but he certainly turned the industry on its head 30 years ago. This is an interesting arrangement on the business side- hot off the European success of u0026quot;The Story Of A Three Day Passu0026quot;, Warner Brothers takes on filmmaker Van Peebles for a feature film. The story of Van Peebles versus the company in filming is a conte in itself, but the film remains poignant and striking in its cinematography and theme. Aggressive editing of both film and musical inserts highlight the subtle comedy and pure desperation of the story of a bigot who wakes up Black and watches the world turn against him.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eItu0026#39;s something of a manic ride, but Cambridge gives it all the human character it can stand. His antagonist-cum-protagonist role gives you 360 degrees of frustration and forced humility. Van Peebles presses the more unreal moments into a sub-psychedelic form. Printed messages, color fills, choppy eye-effecting shots and that insistent score remind you that this absurdity is all too real. But ongoing themes such as u0026quot;He stole something.. we donu0026#39;t know what yet,u0026quot; are darkly hilarious as is Cambridgeu0026#39;s sharp wit.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eu0026quot;Watermelon Manu0026quot; is serious film that will still make you laugh at times. This is not the kick-in-the-establishment-a** that u0026quot;Sweetbacku0026quot; is, but itu0026#39;s an important step on the way. Alongside films such as u0026quot;Cotton Comes To Harlemu0026quot; (also with the superb Cambridge) and u0026quot;Putney Swope,u0026quot; this is an important part of the early end of the Black film explosion.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eLook for cameos by songwriter-actor Paul Williams as an employer and Melvin Van Peebles himself as a painter. Black cast staple (and director of u0026quot;Dolemiteu0026quot;) Du0026#39;Urville Martin is also on hand as a bus driver in some of the filmu0026#39;s funniest scenes.”

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