Sunday, April 17, 2016

Blue Collar (1978)

Director: Paul Schrader
Writers:  Paul Schrader, Leonard Schrader
Cast:       Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel, Yaphet Kotto

Three workers, Zeke (Pryor), Jerry (Keitel) and Smokey (Kotto), are working at a Detroit car plant and drinking their beers together. They have a party together and get an idea in their heads that they should rob local union's bureau safe. First they think it is a flop, as they get only 600 dollars out of it, but then Zeke realizes that they also have gotten some hot 'material' in terms of paperwork. They decide to blackmail their union.

It is a very unusual film and it had Paul Schrader making his directorial debut. For a well known figure who made his name as the screenwriter of Scorsese's 'Taxi Driver', his films are very good to look at also in a surprising way. It is not as visually stunning as his later film 'American Gigolo', but the opening credits set to a great track will have you hooked. Film is very unusual in the sense that you are not entirely sure about the tone of the film. It changes from being a crime story, to a comedy and ultimately becomes a tragedy. It also got an unusual power relationship between the three of its protagonists considering the cliched way they would have you set up in a typical mainstream film. It also got one of the funniest robbery sequences you will ever encounter with a curious disguise. 

The relationship between the three characters are convincingly portrayed. None of them are binary in nature. The main message of the film is that the authority just puts you into different tribal groups and pits you against each other so that they could control you. It is also the natural mode that Zeke and Jerry defaults into when they are facing each other during the climax. It is almost always universally true and that is how the system works in practice. It is a great watch and one of the forgotten classics from that time period.  

Rating: 4/5