BLUE COLLAR (1978) - BFI Black Star: Richard Pryor

  • dir. Paul Schrader
  • year. 1978
  • country. USA
  • run-time. 114 min

£5.00 (£3.50 conc.)

Doors 14:00 - Film 14:30

A knock-out film about the world of work: car workers in a Detroit who are sick of being abused by both management and their corrupt union. Richard Pryor is our black star but there is Yaphet Kotto next to him. The third colleague is Harvey Keitel. This was Paul Schrader’s debut as a director and some would say his best work. Schrader wrote Taxi Driver and Raging Bull and this film has a similar intensity to those films, underpinned by a thumping score by Jack Nitzsche. This is a neglected classic, a terrific movie that was such a nightmare to make that it caused the director a mental breakdown. The three actors did not get on. Pryor liked to improvise, Keitel didn’t. Pryor physically assaulted Kotto. 

The movie was made in real auto plants in the middle of a heatwave. And all that anger is up there on the screen. This is a funky punky film about issues that concern us all today. Schrader says that the films’s politics are: ‘The politics of resentment and claustrophobia, the feeling of being manipulated and not in control of your life’. Is that familiar to any of us?