Car Wash


1h 37m 1976

Brief Synopsis

The eccentric employees at a Los Angeles car wash struggle to get through the day.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
1976

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

A preacher, a cabby, other customers and employees mingle to disco music at a Los Angeles car wash.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
1976

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Articles

Car Wash - Car Wash
Thursday, June 7 at dusk in Atlanta's Piedmont Park for "Screen on the Green" 2007


Ever wonder how some people can work day after day in unskilled, minimum wage jobs? Sometimes it's simply a matter of attitude. Welcome to Car Wash (1976), a day in the life of a bunch of L.A. car wash employees and the characters and customers who fill their lives. It's an essential slice of the '70s, so packed full of ensemble mayhem it’s hard to believe it's scripted.

Promoted as a Richard Pryor/George Carlin movie, the film only features those two big names as cameos. Pryor plays gold-dripping preacher Daddy Rich, but the part was given to him only after the character’s real-life inspiration, televangelist Reverend Ike, turned it down. According to director Michael Schultz, in Jim Haskins’ biography Richard Pryor: A Man and His Madness, “I was trying to get (Ike) in the film, to play himself because he’s got such a great rap. He came and met with us at Universal about it, and at first he was very interested, but then I guess he figured it might not be good for his image. He would have been making fun of himself, in a way. I’d seen Richard do some of his preacher characterizations, and after Reverend Ike turned it down, the part went to Richard.”

Schultz had extensive experience in the theater and treated his cast like an ensemble. He had them meet at the sound stage before shooting began to do readings and blocking and staged a run through at the Los Angeles car wash where the film would be shot (Figueroa Car Wash). By the time shooting began, the actors were a close-knit group.

In the aforementioned Haskins biography, Schultz discussed working with Pryor on the film, stating, "The only direction I gave him was: go here, stand there, do this, do that. Richard's the kind of actor who will give you three or four variations on one theme, and as a director all you have to do is guide him along or pick which one you want." For his part, Pryor wasn't too keen on appearing in the film and would later discredit it in his biography, Pryor Convictions and Other Life Sentences, saying, "On the set of Car Wash, I was too coked out to know any better." He felt that ticket buyers were being deliberately misled by the advertising campaign to expect his part to be bigger than a mere cameo role.

None of the main actors was a star, although there were lots of veteran thespians among them. Ivan Dixon (Lonnie) and Clarence Muse (Snapper) were both established on stage and screen. Carlin and Pryor were there to punch up the box-office appeal, but for Schultz, the point of the film was the lives of everyday people – a hooker looking for her boyfriend, a black militant, the car wash owner and his geeky Maoist son, the cashier who waits for prince charming to walk through the door, the aging ex-con and wise man of the bunch – not to mention all the customers and their respective neuroses (mom with puking boy), difficulties (man in body cast), and quirks (family with Doberman). And then there's Carlin, weaving in and out of the film as the taxi driver looking for the aforementioned prostitute after she ran out on a fare. The Pointer Sisters show up as Daddy Rich's entourage, Garrett Morris appears (pre-SNL), and DeWayne Jesse (Animal House’s [1978] Otis Day) is also present, polishing cloth in hand. The film's soundtrack acts as a character in its own right and won a Grammy® for best original film score. Car Wash even won two prizes at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, one for Michael Schultz and one for Best Music.

Producer: Art Linson, Gary Stromberg
Director: Michael Schultz
Screenplay: Joel Schumacher
Cinematography: Frank Stanley
Film Editing: Christopher Holmes
Art Direction: Robert Clatworthy
Music: Norman Whitfield
Cast: Franklyn Ajaye (T.C.), Sully Boyar (Mr. B), Richard Brestoff (Irwin), Carmine Caridi (Foolish Father), George Carlin (Taxi Driver), Irwin Corey (Mad Bomber).
C-97m. Closed captioning.

by Emily Soares
Car Wash  - Car Wash
Thursday, June 7 At Dusk In Atlanta's Piedmont Park For "screen On The Green" 2007

Car Wash - Car Wash Thursday, June 7 at dusk in Atlanta's Piedmont Park for "Screen on the Green" 2007

Ever wonder how some people can work day after day in unskilled, minimum wage jobs? Sometimes it's simply a matter of attitude. Welcome to Car Wash (1976), a day in the life of a bunch of L.A. car wash employees and the characters and customers who fill their lives. It's an essential slice of the '70s, so packed full of ensemble mayhem it’s hard to believe it's scripted. Promoted as a Richard Pryor/George Carlin movie, the film only features those two big names as cameos. Pryor plays gold-dripping preacher Daddy Rich, but the part was given to him only after the character’s real-life inspiration, televangelist Reverend Ike, turned it down. According to director Michael Schultz, in Jim Haskins’ biography Richard Pryor: A Man and His Madness, “I was trying to get (Ike) in the film, to play himself because he’s got such a great rap. He came and met with us at Universal about it, and at first he was very interested, but then I guess he figured it might not be good for his image. He would have been making fun of himself, in a way. I’d seen Richard do some of his preacher characterizations, and after Reverend Ike turned it down, the part went to Richard.” Schultz had extensive experience in the theater and treated his cast like an ensemble. He had them meet at the sound stage before shooting began to do readings and blocking and staged a run through at the Los Angeles car wash where the film would be shot (Figueroa Car Wash). By the time shooting began, the actors were a close-knit group. In the aforementioned Haskins biography, Schultz discussed working with Pryor on the film, stating, "The only direction I gave him was: go here, stand there, do this, do that. Richard's the kind of actor who will give you three or four variations on one theme, and as a director all you have to do is guide him along or pick which one you want." For his part, Pryor wasn't too keen on appearing in the film and would later discredit it in his biography, Pryor Convictions and Other Life Sentences, saying, "On the set of Car Wash, I was too coked out to know any better." He felt that ticket buyers were being deliberately misled by the advertising campaign to expect his part to be bigger than a mere cameo role. None of the main actors was a star, although there were lots of veteran thespians among them. Ivan Dixon (Lonnie) and Clarence Muse (Snapper) were both established on stage and screen. Carlin and Pryor were there to punch up the box-office appeal, but for Schultz, the point of the film was the lives of everyday people – a hooker looking for her boyfriend, a black militant, the car wash owner and his geeky Maoist son, the cashier who waits for prince charming to walk through the door, the aging ex-con and wise man of the bunch – not to mention all the customers and their respective neuroses (mom with puking boy), difficulties (man in body cast), and quirks (family with Doberman). And then there's Carlin, weaving in and out of the film as the taxi driver looking for the aforementioned prostitute after she ran out on a fare. The Pointer Sisters show up as Daddy Rich's entourage, Garrett Morris appears (pre-SNL), and DeWayne Jesse (Animal House’s [1978] Otis Day) is also present, polishing cloth in hand. The film's soundtrack acts as a character in its own right and won a Grammy® for best original film score. Car Wash even won two prizes at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, one for Michael Schultz and one for Best Music. Producer: Art Linson, Gary Stromberg Director: Michael Schultz Screenplay: Joel Schumacher Cinematography: Frank Stanley Film Editing: Christopher Holmes Art Direction: Robert Clatworthy Music: Norman Whitfield Cast: Franklyn Ajaye (T.C.), Sully Boyar (Mr. B), Richard Brestoff (Irwin), Carmine Caridi (Foolish Father), George Carlin (Taxi Driver), Irwin Corey (Mad Bomber). C-97m. Closed captioning. by Emily Soares

Richard Pryor (1940-2005)


The scathing, brilliantly insightful African-American comic who proved himself on many occasions to be a highly competent screen actor, died of a heart attack on November 10 at his Encino, California home. He was 65. He had been reclusive for years after he publicly announced he was suffering from multiple sclerosis in 1992.

He was born Richard Thomas Pryor III on December 1, 1940 in Peoria, Illinois. By all accounts, his childhood was a difficult one. His mother was a prostitute and his grandmother ran a brothel. His father was rarely around and when he was, he would physically abuse him. From a young age, Pryor knew that humor was his weapon of choice to cut through all the swath he came across and would confront in his life.

After high school, he enlisted in the Army for a two-year stint (1958-60). When he was discharged (honorably!) he concentrated on stand-up comedy and worked in a series of nightclubs before relocating to New York City in 1963. In 1964, he made his television debut when he was given a slot on the variety program On Broadway Tonight. His routine, though hardly the groundbreaking material we would witness in later years, was very well received, and in the late '60s Pryor found more television work: Toast of the Town, The Wild Wild West, The Mod Squad ; and was cast in a two movies: The Busy Body (1967) with Sid Caesar; and Wild in the Streets (1968) a cartoonish political fantasy about the internment of all American citizens over 30.

Pryor's career really didn't ignite until the '70s. His stand up act became raunchier and more politically motivated as he touched on issued of race, failed relationships, drug addiction, and street crimes. His movie roles became far more captivating in the process: the piano man in Lady Sings the Blues (1972); as a wise-talking hustler in a pair of slick urban thrillers: The Mack (1973) and Uptown Saturday Night (1974); the gregarious Daddy Rich in Car Wash; his first pairing with Gene Wilder as Grover, the car thief who helps stops a runaway train in his first real box office smash Silver Streak (both 1976); and for many critics, his finest dramatic performance as a factory worker on the edge of depression in Paul Schrader's excellent working class drama Blue Collar (1978).

On a personal level, his drug dependency problem worsened, and on June 9, 1980, near tragedy struck when he caught fire while free-basing cocaine. Pryor later admitted that the incident, was, in fact, a suicide attempt, and that his management company created the lie for the press in hopes of protecting him. Fortunately, Pryor had three films in the can that all achieved some level of financial success soon after his setback: another pairing with Gene Wilder in the prison comedy Stir Crazy (1980); a blisteringly funny cameo as God who flips off Andy Kaufman in the warped religious satire In God We Tru$t (1980); an a ex-con helping a social worker (Cicely Tyson) with her foster charges in Bustin' Loose (1981). He capped his recovery with Live on the Sunset Strip (1982), a first-rate documentation of the comic's genius performed in front of a raucous live audience.

In 1983, Pryor signed a $40 million, five-year contract with Columbia Pictures. For many fans and critics, this was the beginning of his downslide. His next few films: The Toy, Superman III (both 1983), and Brewster's Millions (1985) were just tiresome, mediocre comedies. Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling (1986), was his only attempt at producing, directing, and acting, and the film, which was an ambitious autobiographical account of a his life and career, was a box-office disappointment. He spent the remainder of the '80s in middling fare: Condition Critical (1987), Moving; a third pairing with Gene Wilder in See No Evil, Hear No Evil; and his only teaming with Eddie Murphy in Harlem Nights (1989).

In 1986, Pryor was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system that curtailed both his personal appearances and his gift for physical comedy in his latter films. By the '90s, little was seen of Pryor, but in 1995, he made a courageous comeback on television when he guest starred on Chicago Hope as an embittered multiple sclerosis patient. His performance earned him an Emmy nomination and he was cast in a few more films: Mad Dog Time (1996), Lost Highway (1997), but his physical ailments prohibited him from performing on a regular basis. In 1998, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington gave Pryor the first Mark Twain Prize for humor. It was fitting tribute for a man who had given so much honesty and innovation in the field of comedy. Pryor is survived by his wife, Jennifer Lee; his sons Richard and Steven; and daughters Elizabeth, Rain and Renee.

by Michael T. Toole

Richard Pryor (1940-2005)

The scathing, brilliantly insightful African-American comic who proved himself on many occasions to be a highly competent screen actor, died of a heart attack on November 10 at his Encino, California home. He was 65. He had been reclusive for years after he publicly announced he was suffering from multiple sclerosis in 1992. He was born Richard Thomas Pryor III on December 1, 1940 in Peoria, Illinois. By all accounts, his childhood was a difficult one. His mother was a prostitute and his grandmother ran a brothel. His father was rarely around and when he was, he would physically abuse him. From a young age, Pryor knew that humor was his weapon of choice to cut through all the swath he came across and would confront in his life. After high school, he enlisted in the Army for a two-year stint (1958-60). When he was discharged (honorably!) he concentrated on stand-up comedy and worked in a series of nightclubs before relocating to New York City in 1963. In 1964, he made his television debut when he was given a slot on the variety program On Broadway Tonight. His routine, though hardly the groundbreaking material we would witness in later years, was very well received, and in the late '60s Pryor found more television work: Toast of the Town, The Wild Wild West, The Mod Squad ; and was cast in a two movies: The Busy Body (1967) with Sid Caesar; and Wild in the Streets (1968) a cartoonish political fantasy about the internment of all American citizens over 30. Pryor's career really didn't ignite until the '70s. His stand up act became raunchier and more politically motivated as he touched on issued of race, failed relationships, drug addiction, and street crimes. His movie roles became far more captivating in the process: the piano man in Lady Sings the Blues (1972); as a wise-talking hustler in a pair of slick urban thrillers: The Mack (1973) and Uptown Saturday Night (1974); the gregarious Daddy Rich in Car Wash; his first pairing with Gene Wilder as Grover, the car thief who helps stops a runaway train in his first real box office smash Silver Streak (both 1976); and for many critics, his finest dramatic performance as a factory worker on the edge of depression in Paul Schrader's excellent working class drama Blue Collar (1978). On a personal level, his drug dependency problem worsened, and on June 9, 1980, near tragedy struck when he caught fire while free-basing cocaine. Pryor later admitted that the incident, was, in fact, a suicide attempt, and that his management company created the lie for the press in hopes of protecting him. Fortunately, Pryor had three films in the can that all achieved some level of financial success soon after his setback: another pairing with Gene Wilder in the prison comedy Stir Crazy (1980); a blisteringly funny cameo as God who flips off Andy Kaufman in the warped religious satire In God We Tru$t (1980); an a ex-con helping a social worker (Cicely Tyson) with her foster charges in Bustin' Loose (1981). He capped his recovery with Live on the Sunset Strip (1982), a first-rate documentation of the comic's genius performed in front of a raucous live audience. In 1983, Pryor signed a $40 million, five-year contract with Columbia Pictures. For many fans and critics, this was the beginning of his downslide. His next few films: The Toy, Superman III (both 1983), and Brewster's Millions (1985) were just tiresome, mediocre comedies. Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling (1986), was his only attempt at producing, directing, and acting, and the film, which was an ambitious autobiographical account of a his life and career, was a box-office disappointment. He spent the remainder of the '80s in middling fare: Condition Critical (1987), Moving; a third pairing with Gene Wilder in See No Evil, Hear No Evil; and his only teaming with Eddie Murphy in Harlem Nights (1989). In 1986, Pryor was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system that curtailed both his personal appearances and his gift for physical comedy in his latter films. By the '90s, little was seen of Pryor, but in 1995, he made a courageous comeback on television when he guest starred on Chicago Hope as an embittered multiple sclerosis patient. His performance earned him an Emmy nomination and he was cast in a few more films: Mad Dog Time (1996), Lost Highway (1997), but his physical ailments prohibited him from performing on a regular basis. In 1998, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington gave Pryor the first Mark Twain Prize for humor. It was fitting tribute for a man who had given so much honesty and innovation in the field of comedy. Pryor is survived by his wife, Jennifer Lee; his sons Richard and Steven; and daughters Elizabeth, Rain and Renee. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

I'm more man than you'll ever be and more woman than you'll ever get.
- Lindy
The best place for money, is right here in my pocket.
- Daddy Rich

Trivia

The main location of this film was an actual Los Angeles car wash a few blocks from McArthur Park. It was torn down in the late 1980s. While it was open, the marquee of the car wash announced it was featured in this film.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States October 1998

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1976

Shown at African American Film Marketplace in Los Angeles October 15-22, 1998.

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1976

Released in United States October 1998 (Shown at African American Film Marketplace in Los Angeles October 15-22, 1998.)