Blue Collar (1978)

23 Jan

114m; U.S.
Director: Paul Schraeder
Cast: Harvey Keitel, Richard Pryor

Synopsis: A band of auto workers decide to rob the local union office. They find $600 and a ledger book. The book reveals that the local has been loan sharking, so the workers decide to blackmail the union officers. The local first announces that $10,000 had been stolen and the figure later rose to $20,600 in an effort to cheat the insurance company.

Where to watch: Available for rental on iTunes, Google Play and other streaming platforms.

If you’re looking for something more tart than inspirational for your Labor Day viewing, the directorial debut of Paul Schrader will do the trick. (Back then he was best known as the writer of “Taxi Driver”; now he’s the provocative éminence grise behind “First Reformed.”) Set and shot on location in Detroit, the movie stars Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto as autoworkers thoroughly disillusioned with being exploited on the assembly line. Schrader’s analysis of their plight is informed by Marx but also exposes racial inequality. The movie is excessive, profane and relentlessly angry, with some comedic detours that fall flat. But it’s also razor-sharp in its examination of how working people can be turned against their own interests, and each other, by the crassly manipulative forces above them. GLENN KENNY (NYT)


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