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      Blue Collar

      R Released Feb 10, 1978 1 hr. 54 min. Drama List
      96% 46 Reviews Tomatometer 88% 2,500+ Ratings Audience Score When Detroit autoworkers Zeke Brown (Richard Pryor), Jerry Bartowski (Harvey Keitel) and Smokey James (Yaphet Kotto) decide to rob their own union, they are initially disappointed by the relatively small haul. However, upon closer inspection, the three amateur thieves discover that they have made off with something potentially much more valuable than money: the union's ledger, filled with bogus figures and links to organized crime. Should they blackmail the union or go to the authorities? Read More Read Less Watch on Fandango at Home Premiered Dec 28 Buy Now

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      Blue Collar

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      Critics Consensus

      Paul Schrader's Blue Collar offers a searing, darkly funny indictment of labor exploitation and rampant consumerism that's fueled by the outstanding work of an excellent cast.

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      Audience Reviews

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      Alec B The ending is too neat and tidy (it also underlines the movie's thesis in a way that seems unnecessary) but the performances are uniformly good and there is an attention to detail, both in the characters and the settings, that lends a lot of authenticity to the proceedings. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/21/24 Full Review Skye W As a fan of Schrader and a huge fan of Pryor and Keitel, it's hard to admit, but this was truly one of the worst movies I have ever seen. The whole thing feels like improv with no direction whatsoever. I am baffled by the great reviews here. This was difficult to watch without cringing. Rated 1 out of 5 stars 10/09/23 Full Review Audience Member Paul Schrader directs a film about the blue collar working man starring the late Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel, and Yaphet Kotto If you're rich you can buy it, if you're anything else you gotta fight for it When Detroit autoworkers Zeke Brown, Jerry Bartowski, and Smokey James decide to rob their own union, they are initially disappointed by the relatively small haul However, upon closer inspection, the three amateur thieves discover that they have made off with something potentially much more valuable than money: the union's ledger, filled with bogus figures and links to organized crime Should they blackmail the union or go to the authorities? Jerry loves his Union, Zeke demands change, and Smokey owes a debt to a loan shark over a numbers game but all of them are sick of the mistreatment of management and union brass Essentially this is both a critique of union practices and an examination of life in a working-class Rust Belt enclave The production is also infamous for the director himself having trouble personally with lots of crew and cast members after suffering a mental breakdown which almost derailed his whole career But it shows a true face of the state of labor conditions with companies screwing their workers out of their hard earned income It's true the more something is worth the less you make, the company always keeps you in your place, is it the money that makes the difference, is it more important to help ourselves than hurt someone else?, there's always a coverup when it comes to the higher ups possessing personal power over the smaller ones, everything they do is to keep the laborers in their place, it's to pit the lifers against the new boys, the young against the old, the black against the white The movie is long and more about the ethical discussions of ending the corruption It's no given that big corporates divide workers against one another The ending doesn't end as happily as you'd think But its remarkable and volatile in that 1970s gritty way with top of the line performances by the three leads especially Pryor who can be serious and not just as comedian If you can forgive the lax pacing it's much more hard hitting than you'd expect as well as most relevant politically It's remarkable too that it points a finger at the ideological hypocrites that willingly directed the destruction while pretending to defend the interests of those that suffered the most Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/12/23 Full Review Audience Member Set in 1970s Detroit, Blue Collar introduces itself as a comedy, but slowly transforms into a heist movie that exposes union corruption and the everyday struggles of the working class. Pryor brings a handful of laughs early, but they dissipate with the seriousness of the progressing plot. These are employed men conducting grueling work, and although they have roofs over their heads and food to eat, life is still a struggle — this is best exemplified when a literal "tax man" (Leonard Gaines) comes to Zeke's (Richard Pryor) door. Labor-oriented movies are a niche interest of mine, and this is supposed to be one of the best, but it was just missing a little something to push it into the (80)s. Eventually, you can only cut your finger on your gotdamn locker that you've complained about time and again before you take that higher-paying foreman gig, which is understandable. Unfortunately, solidarity alone won't pay those back taxes. Schrader has a lot to say here, and it's not all pro-union either. But at the end, the main takeaway is unequivocal: "They pit the lifers against the new boys, the young against the old, the black against the white. Everything they do is to keep us in our place." Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/01/23 Full Review Shioka O I thought it is a bit dull tempo. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 09/20/22 Full Review Audience Member The ending is too neat and tidy (it also underlines the movie's thesis in a way that seems unnecessary) but the performances are uniformly good and there is an attention to detail, both in the characters and the settings, that lends a lot of authenticity to the proceedings. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/13/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Cast & Crew

      This movie is featured in the following articles.

      Critics Reviews

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      Jesse Hassenger AV Club The pacing can feel a bit lax, but the movie's eclecticism is remarkable. Aug 21, 2021 Full Review K. Austin Collins The Ringer Blue Collar offers up the bitter, outrageous, and ultimately despairing vision of anti-union efforts that the subject deserves. Aug 21, 2021 Full Review Richard Brody New Yorker Schrader depicts the exchange of labor for money as a kind of original sin, and not even those who honor its code-to the letter and in spirit-are innocent. Aug 21, 2021 Full Review Rene Jordan El Nuevo Herald (Miami) Blue Collar is the American Dream converted into a nightmare, or a drama about a man consumed by a society of consumerism. Who would want to voluntarily submit themselves to this torture? [Full review in Spanish] Jan 25, 2024 Full Review Mitchell Beaupre Paste Magazine Schrader keeps our interests rooted at all times with this trio of characters, and through them pushes important conversational topics around labor exploitation and the perpetual dehumanization of the workforce under capitalism. Rated: 10/10 Feb 12, 2023 Full Review Rob Gonsalves Rob's Movie Vault A clenched, provocative drama, brilliantly acted. Rated: A Dec 1, 2022 Full Review Read all reviews

      Movie Info

      Synopsis When Detroit autoworkers Zeke Brown (Richard Pryor), Jerry Bartowski (Harvey Keitel) and Smokey James (Yaphet Kotto) decide to rob their own union, they are initially disappointed by the relatively small haul. However, upon closer inspection, the three amateur thieves discover that they have made off with something potentially much more valuable than money: the union's ledger, filled with bogus figures and links to organized crime. Should they blackmail the union or go to the authorities?
      Director
      Paul Schrader
      Executive Producer
      Robin French
      Screenwriter
      Sydney A. Glass, Leonard Schrader, Paul Schrader
      Distributor
      Anchor Bay Entertainment, Universal Pictures
      Production Co
      TAT Communications Company
      Rating
      R
      Genre
      Drama
      Original Language
      English
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Feb 10, 1978, Wide
      Release Date (Streaming)
      Jul 20, 2010
      Sound Mix
      Mono
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