My second Peebles after Watermelon Man, building up gradually to the big one. Harry Baird (The Oblong Box) has three days of leave, attempts to have the best time possible (accomplished) and not fuck up his brand-new promotion (ummm). Different versions of himself appear in mirrors and fantasies, and characters speaking to him look directly into camera, placing us in his head. The whole thing is electric and alive, and self-consciously French-new-wavey. The white girl who falls in love with him is even Nicole Berger of Shoot the Piano Player.
Baird flies into a rage when a Spanish restaurant singer calls him negrito, he’s spotted by other soldiers outside the range they’re supposed to travel, and after his lockup for breaking the rules, the girl is gone.
A corny white insurance agent, family man, workout nut, kinda racist, happily obnoxious to women and everyone else, wakes up Black one day. He freaks out, and his wife calls him a white supremacist while he focuses the blame on his sun lamp and tries to figure out how to whiten his skin again. I watched this on MLK Day, which I suppose might make me a bad person, but it’s good – a goofy but not stupid comedy (usually you get neither or both).
Lead actor Godfrey Cambridge had an excellent year, also starring in Cotton Comes to Harlem. When he goes out in public he’s hassled by cops (“He stole something – we don’t know what it is yet”). Finally his wife and boss and neighbors reject him, but he comes to terms with himself, starting his own business and plotting to lead the next Black revolution.