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Blue Collar 1978

R CC
4.2 out of 5 stars (66) IMDb 7.6/10

Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto star in this powerful, critically acclaimed drama about three auto assembly line workers who hatch a plan to rob a safe at union headquarters.

Starring:
Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel
Runtime:
1 hour, 54 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama
Director Paul Schrader
Starring Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel
Supporting actors Yaphet Kotto, Ed Begley Jr., Harry Bellaver, George Memmoli, Lucy Saroyan, Lane Smith, Cliff De Young, Borah Silver, Chip Fields, Harry Northup, Leonard Gaines, Milton Selzer, Sammy Warren, Jimmy Martinez, Jerry Dahlmann, Denny Arnold, Rock Riddle, Stacey Baldwin
Studio Universal Pictures
MPAA rating R (Restricted)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This review is for the product - the film is an under-rated gem that deserves a full restoration and proper DVD release, but instead Universal has relegated it to this garbage "Vault Series" line. What you get when ordering any film in this series is a DVD-R, not a commercially made DVD - with a basic case/cover that anyone could make at home. It's despicable and following on the heals of Warner Bros. similar attempts, a rather frightening portent of what's to come. The only recourse we have is to send a message that this is NOT ACCEPTABLE. Don't pay $20 for a 25 cent PC pressed copy! Universal should be ashamed of themselves!

To be perfectly clear, what you get is essentially a home-pressed DVD COPY, not a commercial DVD. There are no menus - you put it in and the film starts, that's it. No extras, no subtitles, and non-anamorphic middling transfers. Lost is the excellent Paul Schrader commentary from the long out of print Anchor Bay disc. Putting excellent films like this, Tell Them Willie Boy is Here, A Bronx Tale, and others - many of which were previously already available on DVD! - is absolutely insulting! They aren't worth the cost of shipping them, but they have the audacity to charge $20 a pop? Absolutely appalling greed that depends on uninformed consumers ordering blindly. Boycott these and they will go away!
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Format: VHS Tape
This 1978 underrated classic is about three autoworkers. There's an honest and gritty realism to this story and the four-letter words and curses have a ring of authenticity to them, especially those of Richard Pryor whose foul language has been compared to raw sewage mixed with social insight. He's cast in the role of Zeke Brown, who owes money to the IRS and struggles to support his wife and three children. Harvey Keitel plays Jerry Bawtowski, who also has trouble meeting his bills and can't even afford braces for his daughter. And Yaphet Kotto, a physically imposing black man who is actually the son of a Cameroonian crown prince, plays the role of Smoky James, an ex-con who throws wild parties with drugs and women which serve as escape for the growing frustration of the men. All three see the union as corrupt and decide to rob the union office. They hope to get a few thousand dollars apiece. Instead they get more than they bargained for and the series of events that follow lead to betrayal, and murder.

This is the directional debut for writer/director Paul Shrader, known for writing Taxi Driver, and he does a masterful job. He puts the viewer right there on the assembly line, with the harsh clanging of heavy machinery and the constant pressure of the foreman to work faster and faster. I could almost feel the heat and smell the machine oil and sweat of the workers. Along with the physical labor, there's constant stress and this goes on day after day after day. The subject is serious and the story real but the wisecracks provide comic relief and the story is fast paced and gripping. An excellent blues musical score enhancing the action underscores all this. And all the performances were so good that I forgot they were acting.
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2 Comments 26 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
"Blue Collar" is one of the great underrated American films of the 1970s. It tells the story of three desperate, powerless men who work in a Detroit auto plant. When they're not being suppressed by their soulless company, they're being duped by their arrogant, corrupt labor union. Their collective desperation leads them to conduct an almost laughably amateurish robbery of the union safe. Instead, what they find is evidence of widespread union corruption. When they decide to blackmail the union, they find that three working men are no match for a ruthless, powerful labor union (and--in a larger sense--the American capitalist system).
Director Paul Schrader (who co-wrote the film with his brother Leonard) presents this tale in a gritty, realistic fashion. Its bleak message is timeless, but the film is very much of the late 1970s, both in the sets (note the ugly orange sofas!) and in its infusion of drama and socio-political commentary. Filmed in Detroit, Kalamazoo, and Los Angeles, you really get the sense of the hopeless desperation of these three men, who are dying to make a better life for themselves and their families, but are trapped in soul-crushing jobs at the factory.
Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto are their usual brilliant selves. The true surprise for most viewers will be Richard Pryor in one of the very few dramatic roles he ever played. He's hilarious, tragic, sympathetic, and--in the end--despicable all rolled into one.
The DVD version of "Blue Collar" contains interesting bios of the three stars and of Schrader, and a commentary from the director and a female journalist (who spends much of the time swooning over Keitel...particularly when he's in his underwear!).
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
Paul Schrader, probably best known for writing Martin Scorsese pictures such as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, and Bringing Out the Dead, was also--is also--an accomplished director, as evidenced by the film Blue Collar. The film, which stars Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel, and Yaphet Kotto, centers around the lives of three blue collar (hence the title) auto workers on the assembly line in Detroit. Their Union has been screwing them, so one day, Pryor's character decides to rob the vault in the Union offices, bring Keitel and Kotto along. However, there is no money, and the next day, the Union claims that thousands of dollars were stolen. And the intrigue begins..

It's a great crime film, a great film of the 70's, from the New Hollywood, that centers not only on an intriguing plot, but also on realistic characters....and it's also funny.

However, now we get to the DVD. This is a DVD-R copy, meaning it's made to order, burned from a computer, packaged, then sent to you. That's fine in most cases, however, Amazon had it listed in their product description that this included Schrader's (supposedly) great commentary that is included on an earlier version. If all you care about is owning a copy of this film, then do it, buy it. It works. But if you want the commentary, look for Anchor Bay's release. It tends to run a little higher in price, but maybe worth it to you.

So in the end, the film gets 5 stars, all around. The DVD is what knocked my star rating down to 3 stars.
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