Blue Collar

Blue Collar

4.5 2
Director: Paul Schrader, Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel, Yaphet Kotto

Cast: Paul Schrader, Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel, Yaphet Kotto

     
 

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Paul Schrader's directorial debut examines the trials of Detroit autoworkers living at the mercy of a heartless corporation and a corrupt union. Surviving from paycheck to paycheck, Checker Cab assembly linemen Zeke (Richard Pryor), Jerry (Harvey Keitel), and Smokey (Yaphet Kotto) scrape by and take pleasure in a few rounds of beer or bowling (and occasional illicit

Overview

Paul Schrader's directorial debut examines the trials of Detroit autoworkers living at the mercy of a heartless corporation and a corrupt union. Surviving from paycheck to paycheck, Checker Cab assembly linemen Zeke (Richard Pryor), Jerry (Harvey Keitel), and Smokey (Yaphet Kotto) scrape by and take pleasure in a few rounds of beer or bowling (and occasional illicit amusements). But when their money troubles pile up, Jerry and Smokey join Zeke in a desperate plan to steal cash from their local union office. Along with a piddling $600, they unexpectedly swipe evidence of union corruption. Deciding to use it for blackmail, the men discover instead how powerfully malevolent the union can be in a system that counts on petty divisiveness to keep the larger power structure intact. Inspired by stories of real-life disillusionment, Schrader and his brother/co-writer Leonard Schrader took on politically difficult issues of race and corporate labor, infusing the indictment of unions with a suggestion of post-Watergate paranoia about forces beyond the union that keep workers in their place. From the opening sequence of the assembly line to the final evocative freeze-frame, Schrader maintains an atmosphere of gritty realism, with the lead trio lending low-key dramatic force to a situation beyond their control. Too downbeat for a late '70s audience increasingly drawn to happier fare, Blue Collar flopped, yet it did earn Schrader critical accolades. Although he has reportedly since disowned the film, Blue Collar remains one of Schrader's best works, with Zeke and Jerry powered by the same sense of simmering frustration that would explode so effectively in Affliction two decades later.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Richard Pryor's best dramatic performance is at the heart of Blue Collar, a rare American film that casts an unflinching look at the high-pressure life of working-class people. Acclaimed screenwriter Paul Schrader (who wrote such films as Taxi Driver and Raging Bull) made his directorial debut with this simmering story about three desperate Detroit autoworkers (played by Pryor, Harvey Keitel, and Yaphet Kotto) who plot to rob their own union. Both the merciless corporation and the corrupt union are their enemies in this bleak, profane, but spirited film. The subject matter of real, unglamorous people is usually off-limits for Hollywood, but Schrader wisely resists the temptation to glamorize his protagonists. Pryor shows tremendous range in a role that uses his expressive humanity for other than comic purposes. His lost, weary, cheated character is at the core of the film's considerable moral weight.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/07/2014
UPC:
0025192052491
Original Release:
1978
Source:
Universal Mod
Time:
1:54:00
Sales rank:
9,644

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Richard Pryor Zeke Brown
Harvey Keitel Jerry Bartkowski
Yaphet Kotto Smokey
Ed Begley Bobby Joe
Harry Bellaver Eddie Johnson
George Memmoli Jenkins
Lucy Saroyan Arlene Bartowski
Lane Smith Clarence Hill
Cliff De Young John Burrows
Borah Silver Miller
Chip Fields Caroline Brown
Harry Northrup Hank
Leonard Gaines Internal Revenue Man
Milton Selzer Sumabitch
Sammy Warren Barney
Jimmy Martinez Charlie T. Martinez
Jerry Dahlmann Superintendent
Denny Arnold Unshaven Thug
Rock Riddle Blonde Thug
Stacey Baldwin Debby Bartowski
Steve Butts Bob Bartowski
Stephen P. Dunn Flannigan
Speedy Brown Slim
Davone Florence Frazier Brown
Eddie Singleton Ali Brown
Rya Singleton Aretha Brown
Vermetta Royster Neighbor
Jaime Carreire Little Joe
"Spanky" McFarland Doris
Tracey Walter Union Member

Technical Credits
Paul Schrader Director,Screenwriter
Willie D. Burton Sound/Sound Designer
Bobby Byrne Cinematographer
Ry Cooder Score Composer,Musical Arrangement
Peg Cummings Set Decoration/Design
Ron Dawson Costumes/Costume Designer
Don Guest Producer
David Nichols Associate Producer
Jack Nitzsche Score Composer
Lawrence G. Paull Production Designer
Vic Ramos Casting
Tom Rolf Editor
Alice Rush Costumes/Costume Designer
Leonard Schrader Screenwriter

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Blue Collar 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago