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Flashback: ‘One Potato, Two Potato’ (Miscegenation-Dependent Custody Battle In 1960s USA)

Flashback: 'One Potato, Two Potato' (Miscegenation-Dependent Custody Battle In 1960s USA)

Anyone seen this film?

Researching for another post, on YouTube, when I landed on the below clip for a film called One Potato, Two Potato – a title unfamiliar to me. 

So, as I always do, I looked it up, and learned that the black and white movie is centered on the relationship between a white mid-western woman, in 1964 Ohio, and the black man she remarries, after her white husband leaves her and their child, a young daughter. When her ex-husband discovers that she’s married a black man, he fights her for custody of their child.

The below scene appears to be the tail end of the film, but there’s enough there (as well as in the few other short clips from the film I located) to captivate me. The climax of the story is a highly emotional courtroom sequence in which the woman’s angry ex-husband charges that the child’s welfare is threatened by the environment created by her marriage to a black man.

The film screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 1964, and I read one review from a writer who was actually present for that screening, who stated that, when it ended, the entire audience sat in silence, speechless, because they were emotionally drained! 

Sounds heavy, although I couldn’t really tell from the few minutes of it that I watched.

The film’s star Barbara Barrie, won the Cannes award for Best Actress. Co-starring along with Barrie were Harry BellaverBernie Hamilton (who played the black man she remarries), and Robert Earl Jones – James Earl Jones’ father.

Bernie Hamilton, whom I wasn’t at all familiar with before, would go on to co-star in many more films, as well as TV shows, into the 1980s. He died in 2008.

The film was directed, on what is said to have been a shoestring budget, by Larry Peerce (his directorial debut), from a screenplay penned by Raphael Hayes and Orville H. Hampton, who were both nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 1965. 

By all accounts, it’s not available on any home video format. I checked Netflix (both DVD and streaming), and Amazon (all I found was a poster for the film).

It doesn’t even appear to be on VHS. Surely, someone has the film on some home video format, old or current.

Of course I checked TCM (Turner Classic Movies), and the film was last broadcast on that channel in 2010, according to their website anyway. And there doesn’t seem  to be any future screenings of it planned. 

Has anyone seen this film in full, and/or has a copy of it? I’m curious… given the time this was made and released, it must have been quite a pot stirrer. 

Watch the courtroom scene in which the judge gives his final verdict, and the reaction that follows:

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