Review: Blue Collar
Blu-ray: Blue Collar (1978)
After writing Taxi Driver for Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader made his directorial debut with Blue Collar; a gritty drama about blue collar workers on the factory floor of a Detroit car manufacturing plant.
Starring Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto in the leading roles of 3 men whose lives revolve around the car production line and drinking beers together after work, they concoct a plan to steal some cash from the Union bosses who they see as screwing them over on even the slightest of their complaints.
Their initial dismay at only coming away with $600 is soon tempered by the fact that they have also acquired evidence to blackmail their Union bosses. Unfortunately, this leads all 3 men to reassess their family and work relationships, whereby their friendship is pushed to breaking point.
Blue Collar contains compelling performances by all involved, and any preconceived notions of Richard Pryor being a ‘comedy actor’ are firmly put to one side as he embodies the character of Zeke with a pathos that draws you deeper into his psyche, as his life seemingly begins to spiral out of control.
Holding a mirror up to American society of the time, and with racial and class issues that are still relevant today, Blue Collar address both personal and political problems without being too pretentious. All the while keeping the focus on the personal lives and issues of the main characters.
With only the occasional moments of brevity, of which the bank robbery disguises are a comical highpoint, Blue Collar draws you into the grimy and noisy car assembly shop floor life with realistic and well delivered dialogue, complete with a cast of characters that you truly care about. When the proverbial shit hits the fan, which it does with alarming regularity, you are emotionally invested in the outcome of all involved.
Yet another classic movie released by Powerhouse Films with their Indicator series. These may well be titles that you are unfamiliar with, but they are certainly worth every single penny to add to your collection.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION SPECIAL FEATURES:
• High Definition remaster
• Original mono audio
• Audio commentary with writer-director Paul Schrader and author Maitland McDonagh
• Paul Schrader BFI Masterclass (1982, 106 mins): the filmmaker presents a fascinating summary of the many issues and ideas he explores in his screenwriting class, recorded at the National Film Theatre, London
• ‘Visions’: Interview with Paul Schrader (1982): archival interview, presented in two versions – the broadcast cut with its original Tony Rayns introduction (21 mins), and the complete interview rushes with a newly recorded introduction by Tony Rayns (58 mins)
• Keith Gordon on ‘Blue Collar’ (2018, 12 mins): a new filmed appreciation by
the filmmaker and actor
• Original theatrical trailer
• Josh Olson trailer commentary (2013, 3 mins): a short critical appreciation.
• Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with a new essay by Brad Stevens, archival interviews with director Paul Schrader, and film credits
• UK premiere on Blu-ray
• Limited Edition of 3,000 copies
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