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Blue Collar (film)

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United States


Crime, Drama



Blue Collar (film) movie poster

Release date
February 10, 1978 (1978-02-10)

Based on
an article bySydney A. Glass

Paul Schrader, Leonard Schrader, Sydney A. Glass (source material)

Paul Schrader, Leonard Schrader

(Zeke Brown), (Jerry Bartowski), (Smokey James),
Ed Begley Jr.
(Bobby Joe), (Eddie Johnson Union President AAW Local 291), (Jenkins)

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Blue collar official trailer 1 harvey keitel movie 1978 hd

Blue Collar is a 1978 American crime drama film directed by Paul Schrader, in his directorial debut. It was written by Schrader and his brother Leonard, and stars Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto.


Blue Collar (film) movie scenes

The film is both a critique of union practices and an examination of life in a working-class Rust Belt enclave. Although it has minimal comic elements provided by Pryor, it is mostly dramatic.

Blue Collar (film) movie scenes

Schrader, who was at the time a renowned screenwriter for his work on Taxi Driver (1976), recalls the shooting as a very difficult one because of the artistic and personal tension between himself and the actors as well as between the stars themselves, also stating that it was the only occasion he suffered an on-set mental breakdown, which made him seriously reconsider his career.

Blue Collar (film) movie scenes

Plot synopsis

Blue Collar (film) wwwgstaticcomtvthumbmovieposters5629p5629p

A trio of Detroit auto workers, two black—Zeke Brown (Pryor) and Smokey James (Kotto)—and one white— Polish-American Jerry Bartowski (Keitel)—are fed up with mistreatment at the hands of both management and union brass. Smokey is in debt to a loan shark, Jerry works a second job to get by and finds himself unable to pay for the dental treatment that his daughter needs, and Zeke cheats money out of the IRS in order to improve his family’s income.

Blue Collar (film) Blue Collar Black Mark Movie Review Chicago Reader

Coupled with the financial hardships on each man's end, the trio hatch a plan to rob a safe at union headquarters. They commit the caper but find only a few scant bills in the process. More importantly, they also come away with a ledger which contains evidence of the union's illegal loan operation and ties to organized crime syndicates. They attempt to blackmail the union with the information but the union retaliates strongly and begins to turn the tables on the three friends. A suspicious accident at the plant results in Smokey's death.

Blue Collar (film) AMAD Special Tribute Patton Oswalt on Paul Schraders BLUE COLLAR

A federal agent attempts to coerce Jerry into informing on the union's corruption, which could make him enemies with his co-workers as well as the union bosses. At the same time, corrupt union bosses try to get Zeke to work for them. By the end, once close friends, Jerry and Zeke turn against each another.


Blue Collar (film) Amazoncom Blue Collar Richard Pryor Harvey Keitel Yaphet Kotto

  • Richard Pryor as Zeke Brown
  • Harvey Keitel as Jerry Bartowski
  • Yaphet Kotto as Smokey James
  • Ed Begley, Jr. as Bobby Joe
  • Harry Bellaver as Eddie Johnson
  • Armond Horace as Himself
  • George Memmoli as Jenkins
  • Lucy Saroyan as Arlene Bartowski
  • Lane Smith as Clarence Hill
  • Cliff De Young as John Burrows
  • Borah Silver as Dogshit Miller
  • Chip Fields as Caroline Brown
  • Harry Northup as Hank
  • Leonard Gaines as Mr Berg, IRS Man
  • Milton Selzer as Sumabitch
  • Sammy Warren as Barney
  • Jimmy Martinez as Charlie T. Hernandez
  • Production

    Blue Collar (film) Robins Underrated Gems Blue Collar 1978 The Back Row

    The film was shot on location at the Checker plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan and at locales around Detroit, including the Ford River Rouge Complex on the city's southwest side and the MacArthur Bridge to Belle Isle.

    Blue Collar (film) Blue Collar Trailer YouTube

    The three main actors didn't get along and were constantly fighting throughout the shoot. The tension became so great that at one point Richard Pryor (supposedly in a drug-fueled rage) pointed a gun at Schrader and told him that there was "no way" he was ever going to do more than three takes for a scene, an incident which may have caused Schrader's nervous breakdown.


    Blue Collar (film) Episode 019 Blue Collar The Magic Lantern

    Blue Collar was universally praised by critics. The film holds a rare 100% "Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. Both Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel especially lauded the film. Ebert awarded the film four stars and Siskel placed the film fourth on his list of the ten best of 1978.

    Blue Collar (film) Rare Screening Of Blue Collar With Richard Pryor And Yaphet Kotto

    Filmmaker Spike Lee included the film on his essential film list entitled List of Films All Aspiring Filmmakers Must See.

    In his autobiography Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen names Blue Collar and Taxi Driver as two of his favorite films from the 1970s.


    Blue Collar (film) Wikipedia
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