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The Watermelon Patch1905

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  • 2.9
This picture integrates elements found in earlier Edison films depicting blacks, such as THE CHICKEN THIEVES (1896), in which a chicken coop is raided; WATERMELON EATING CONTEST (1896), a one-shot facial expression film of happy blacks eating watermelon; and THE PICKANINNIES (1894), showing three Negro youths doing a jig and breakdown. The isolated images of blacks presented in these earlier films are here unified and elaborated upon, using a wide range of editorial techniques. Blacks are shown to be superstitious, petty thieves, good dancers and watermelon lovers. They like to have a good time, but their inherent laziness must be subsidized by pilfering. THE WATERMELON PATCH also owes much to Biograph's THE CHICKEN THIEF (1904), in which chickens are stolen and brought home for a party of eating and dancing. On their next outing, the two thieves are chased and caught by angry rednecks. The many parallels between the two films are partially explained by McCutcheon's involvement in both projects. This Edison film reveals an absurdist playfulness that is lacking in its more vicious and cruder Biograph predecessor.

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