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 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States
Box office$9 million[1]

Carbon Copy is a 1981 British-American comedy film directed by Michael Schultz. The film stars George Segal, Susan Saint James, 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, though they were only co-distributor with Avco/Embassy Pictures and Hemdale Film Corporation.


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, sexually and otherwise. One day he finds out about his former girlfriend son's existence. Once Roger turns up at Walter's office, it turns out that he is the result of Walter's relationship with a black woman, who is now dead. For purposes of professional advancement in the business, he 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 under pressure 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 and ends up kicking Walter out. Her father also 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", a change of color. Per his new accountant, "They don't want you to participate as a White man, so they are going to make you watch like a Black man." Afterwards, 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 Walter can 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 in 1983, 1989, 1994, and 1999. It was released on laserdisc in 1984.

The film was released on DVD in 2004 by MGM Home Entertainment, but was presented in full screen and the film master is from the laserdisc release, being low resolution and often with shifts in quality and color balance.


External links[edit]