Blue Collar (1978)
June 10, 2024 10:15 AM - Subscribe

[TRAILER] When Detroit autoworkers Zeke (Richard Pryor), Jerry (Harvey Keitel) and Smokey (Yaphet Kotto) decide to rob their own union, they are initially disappointed by the relatively small haul. However, upon closer inspection, the three amateur thieves discover that they have made off with something potentially much more valuable than money: the union's ledger, filled with bogus figures and links to organized crime. Should they blackmail the union or go to the authorities?

Also starring Ed Begley Jr., Harry Bellaver, George Memmoli, Lucy Saroyan, Lane Smith.

Directed by Paul Schrader. Written by Paul Schrader, Leonard Schrader. Produced by Don Guest for T.A.T. Communications Company/Universal Pictures. Cinematography by Bobby Byrne. Edited by Tom Rolf. Music by Jack Nitzsche.

96% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on Criterion. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (10 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's maybe a time capsule thing that part of the way the film establishes the depth of their friendships and their lack of racial prejudices is to have them all blow off their wives to all have sex with various shades of ladies and do coke together.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:47 AM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Yeah, some of the 70sisms don't age well. It's a rambling mix of comedy, crime caper and gritty bleakness, with characters you try to root for even as it becomes clear they're a) kind of jerks, b) up against some really shitty odds and c) almost certainly gonna lose. I remember that one character death years later; it still gives me chills. The anti-capitalist social commentary isn't particularly subtle, but it captures a certain working class vibe well and the film has some great acting from the 3 leads. Schrader's first outing as director, I think.

Plus, Yaphet Kotto is always worth watching.
posted by mediareport at 2:22 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Yes, anything with Yaphet Kotto in it!

I saw him at my local home video rental shop (it was the 80s once. . . ), but I was too shy to say anything.
posted by abraxasaxarba at 12:36 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


>Yes, anything with Yaphet Kotto in it!

Have you dug his scene?
posted by Catblack at 6:10 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


This is probably the best I have ever seen Yaphet Kotto. It's his best role anyway. And he nails it.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:47 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Catblack: Like-ity like-like-like!
posted by abraxasaxarba at 3:53 PM on June 11


Is anyone else working through the Schrader films? I just finished this one today. It really captured the gritty late 70s industrial town.
posted by cocoagirl at 4:17 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I'm working through them but just started with Hardcore. There was this kid in film school who used to do a George C. Scott "that's my daughter" imitation and I always thought that was a random impersonation to do. Turns out the kid's dad was one of the producers so I guess that's why he knew it so well.
posted by queensissy at 10:36 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


> Is anyone else working through the Schrader films? I just finished this one today. It really captured the gritty late 70s industrial town.

The criterion channel is doing a kind of feature on him right now. Is this why this is up here? I think he's great, although some of his movies are real downers. By some I mean all.
posted by dis_integration at 2:06 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


> The criterion channel is doing a kind of feature on him right now.
Yup, that's where I'm watching. I love downers. A friend was making fun of me once for only liking depressing movies and I protested, "That's not true! I just saw a comedy I liked." She turned very slowly to face me and challenged, "What was the movie?" "Oh, uh, it was called Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself." She won that one.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:31 PM on June 12 [3 favorites]


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