Carbon Copy (film)

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Carbon Copy
Carbon Copy poster.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMichael Schultz
Produced byStanley Shapiro
Carter DeHaven
Written byStanley Shapiro
StarringGeorge Segal
Denzel Washington
Susan Saint James
Jack Warden
Music byBill Conti
CinematographyFred J. Koenekamp
Distributed byAvco Embassy Pictures
Release date
  • 25 September 1981 (1981-09-25)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States
Box office$9 million[1]

Carbon Copy is a 1981 British-American comedy film directed by Michael Schultz, produced by RKO Pictures and Hemdale Film Corporation, and released by Avco Embassy Pictures on 25 September 1981. The film stars George Segal, Susan Saint James, and Jack Warden, and features Denzel Washington in his feature-film debut. It was the first feature film produced by RKO Pictures after a break of many years.


Roger Porter (Washington), a black man, is the long-lost son of Walter Whitney (Segal), a white businessman living in the exclusive, predominantly white community of San Marino, California. Walter, who is Jewish, lives a frustrating life in his gated community. Roger turns up at Walter's office, revealing that he is the result of Walter's long-ago relationship with a black woman, who is now dead. For purposes of professional advancement in the business, Walter had left Roger's mother. The only person who knew about Roger's mother was his anti-Semitic father-in-law (Warden), who is also his boss. Walter's father-in-law had warned him that the relationship would be harmful to his career, so Walter broke it off.

Walter attempts to help Roger by telling his wife Vivian (Saint James) that he wants to adopt him. She accepts, but soon regrets the decision after she finds out about Roger's real relationship with Walter. She kicks Walter out. Her father then fires him, taking his car and benefits in the process. Walter's friends alienate him. He comes to the realization that his job and his wife receive all of his benefits, leaving him penniless. Walter realizes he is going through "social menopause". Per his accountant, "They don't want you to participate as a white man, so they are going to make you watch like a black man." Roger checks into a motel and tries to make ends meet. Meanwhile, his father-in-law watches Walter's every move to make sure Walter receives no help from the world he knew so that Walter will come back to his old world WITHOUT Roger. Later, Walter and Roger move into an apartment. Walter ends up as a menial manual laborer, shoveling horse manure.

The final ten minutes makes the transition from comedy to drama, where Walter has to choose between either acceptance that Roger is his son, or alienation of Roger to salvage his own position in society.

Main cast[edit]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on VHS, Betamax, and LaserDisc in 1983 by Embassy Home Entertainment.

The film was released on DVD in 2004 by MGM Home Entertainment in a pan and scan format.


External links[edit]