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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

This week at SFC: Blue Collar

Our screenings are free and all are welcome.

Thursday May 10th – film begins 8:15 pm, doors open 7:30 pm

Early film footage of the Chicago bluesman Howling Wolf (who features in Blue Collar’s soundtrack) will precede this week's main feature.

BLUE COLLAR (Paul Schrader/USA/1978/114’)

Blue Collar is the 1978 directorial debut of screenwriter Paul Schrader – who wrote the scripts for Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The Last Temptation of Christ . This drama (with minimal comic elements...) stars Harvey Keitel, Richard Pryor and Yaphet Kotto. Its pounding soundtrack compiled and composed by the late great Jack Nitzsche.

Both a critique of union practices and an examination of life in a working-class ‘Rust Belt’ enclave, the film concerns a trio of Detroit auto workers: Zeke Brown (Pryor), Jerry Bartowski (Keitel), and Smokey James (Kotto). Fed up with mistreatment at the hands of both management and union brass, and coupled with 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 a few scant bills in the union safe. More importantly, they also come away with a ledger, evidence of the union's illegal loan-lending operation and ties to organised crime syndicates.
They soon find themselves wrestling with what to do with this newfound knowledge amidst both a union investigation of the crime and a federal agent's attempts to coerce Jerry into informing on union corruption.

The film is notable for its language, which mimics the street-level profanity found in Schrader's Taxi Driver screenplay and exceeds it in both frequency and rhythm. It is also notable for the performances of its three leads. As Schrader has stated, none of the three got along with each other during the production, and fistfights between takes were not uncommon. Pryor's performance is one of the best of his career.

The film was shot on location at the Checker plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and at numerous locales around Detroit.


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