Blue Collar


1h 50m 1978

Brief Synopsis

Three workers, Zeke, Jerry and Smokey, are working at a car plant and drinking their beers together. One night when they steal away from their wives to have some fun they get the idea to rob the local union's bureau safe. First they think it is a flop, because they get only 600 dollars out of it, but then Zeke realizes that they also have gotten some 'hot' material. They decide to blackmail their union. The best reason for that is the union itself. All three are provoked by the fact that the union claims to have lost 10,000 dollars by their robbery.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
1978

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 50m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

Three guys, two African-American and one Polish, work on the production line in a Detroit automobile factory, and they are fed-up with the conditions. It dawns on them that their workers' union is doing them no greater good than their screwed-up bosses. So the trio pulls off a clumsy robbery at union HQ, in which they only gain accees to some suspicious documents that point to union links with organized crime. Suddenly they're out of their league: violence, paranoia, rivarly, and recrimination erupt around them.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
1978

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 50m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Articles

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)

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

Lane Smith (1936-2005)


Lane Smith, a veteran character actor of stage, screen and television, and who was best known to modern viewers as Perry White on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, died on June 13 at his Los Angeles home of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is more commonly called Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 69.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee on April 29, 1936, Smith had a desire to act from a very young age. After a brief stint in the Army, he moved to New York to study at the Actors Studio and made his debut on off-Broadway debut in 1959. For the next 20 years, Smith was a staple of the New York stage before sinking his teeth into television: Kojak, The Rockford Files, Dallas; and small parts in big films: Rooster Cogburn (1975), Network (1976).

In 1978, he moved to Los Angeles to focus on better film roles, and his toothy grin and southern drawl found him a niche in backwoods dramas: Resurrection (1980), Honeysuckle Rose (1980); and a prominent role as the feisty Mayor in the dated Cold War political yarn Red Dawn (1984).

Smith returned to New York in 1984 and scored a hit on Broadway when he received a starring role in David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross and earned a drama desk award in the process. His breakthrough role for many critics and colleagues was his powerful turn as Richard Nixon in The Final Days (1989); a docudrama based on the book by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. He earned a Golden Globe nomination for his spot-on portrayal of the fallen President, and his career picked up from there as parts in prominent Hollywood films came his way: Air America (1990), My Cousin Vinny, The Mighty Ducks (both 1992), and the Pauly Shore comedy Son in Law (1993).

For all his dependable performances over the years, Smith wasn't a familiar presence to millions of viewers until he landed the plump role of Perry White, the editor of the Daily Planet in Superman: Lois and Clark which co-starred Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher (1993-1997). After that run, he gave a scorching performance as Reverend Jeremiah Brown in the teleplay Inherit the Wind (1999); and he appeared last in the miniseries Out of Order (2003). He is survived by his wife Debbie; and son, Rob.

by Michael T. Toole

Lane Smith (1936-2005)

Lane Smith, a veteran character actor of stage, screen and television, and who was best known to modern viewers as Perry White on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, died on June 13 at his Los Angeles home of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is more commonly called Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 69. Born in Memphis, Tennessee on April 29, 1936, Smith had a desire to act from a very young age. After a brief stint in the Army, he moved to New York to study at the Actors Studio and made his debut on off-Broadway debut in 1959. For the next 20 years, Smith was a staple of the New York stage before sinking his teeth into television: Kojak, The Rockford Files, Dallas; and small parts in big films: Rooster Cogburn (1975), Network (1976). In 1978, he moved to Los Angeles to focus on better film roles, and his toothy grin and southern drawl found him a niche in backwoods dramas: Resurrection (1980), Honeysuckle Rose (1980); and a prominent role as the feisty Mayor in the dated Cold War political yarn Red Dawn (1984). Smith returned to New York in 1984 and scored a hit on Broadway when he received a starring role in David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross and earned a drama desk award in the process. His breakthrough role for many critics and colleagues was his powerful turn as Richard Nixon in The Final Days (1989); a docudrama based on the book by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. He earned a Golden Globe nomination for his spot-on portrayal of the fallen President, and his career picked up from there as parts in prominent Hollywood films came his way: Air America (1990), My Cousin Vinny, The Mighty Ducks (both 1992), and the Pauly Shore comedy Son in Law (1993). For all his dependable performances over the years, Smith wasn't a familiar presence to millions of viewers until he landed the plump role of Perry White, the editor of the Daily Planet in Superman: Lois and Clark which co-starred Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher (1993-1997). After that run, he gave a scorching performance as Reverend Jeremiah Brown in the teleplay Inherit the Wind (1999); and he appeared last in the miniseries Out of Order (2003). He is survived by his wife Debbie; and son, Rob. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Why do you go to the line every Friday?
- Smokey James
Well--
- Jerry Bartowski
Because the finance man's gonna be at your house on Saturday, right? That's exactly what the company wants -- to keep you on their line. They'll do anything to keep you on their line. They pit the lifers against the new boys, the old against the young, the black against the white -- ANYTHING to keep us in our place.
- Smokey James

Trivia

It was a very tense shoot because the three lead actors, Richard Pryor, "Yaphet Kotto' and "Harvey Keitel' argued constantly. After Paul Schrader yelled cut, many times the actors nearly came to blows and had to be restrained.

No major auto company would allow this film to be shot at their factory, so the Checker Cab Co. plant was used as the primary location.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1978

Released in United States March 1978

Re-released in United States on Video August 8, 1995

Released in United States 1998

Shown at Avignon/New York Film Festival (Schrader Retrospective) in New York City (French Institute) April 24 - May 3, 1998.

Shown at Vancouver International Film Festival September 26 - October 12, 1998.

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1978

Released in United States March 1978

Re-released in United States on Video August 8, 1995

Released in United States 1998 (Shown at Avignon/New York Film Festival (Schrader Retrospective) in New York City (French Institute) April 24 - May 3, 1998.)

Released in United States 1998 (Shown at Vancouver International Film Festival September 26 - October 12, 1998.)