BLUE COLLAR
1978, Universal, 114 min, USA, Dir: Paul Schrader

Paul Schrader’s directorial debut is one of his best pictures and remains one of the most searing accounts ever of the urban working man’s life in America. Harvey Keitel, Richard Pryor and Yaphet Kotto are auto plant workers and best friends who are less than happy with their severely corrupt union. When their nocturnal burglary of the union’s safe nets cash along with a startling revelation of cooked books - kickbacks, payoffs and collusion with organized crime - the lives of the three comrades become a nightmare of looking-over-their-shoulders paranoia. The director co-wrote the screenplay with his brother, Leonard Schrader (THE YAKUZA), and the amazing original score is by Jack Nitzsche (PERFORMANCE), with an unforgettable hard blues-rock opening-credits song warbled by none other than Captain Beefheart. A film comparable in street credibility and manic energy to Scorsese’s MEAN STREETS - if you have never seen this, it is not to be missed. "Very probably the most clear-sighted movie ever made about the ways that shopfloor workers get f*****d over by 'the system.'" - Time Out (UK)


LADY SINGS THE BLUES
1972, Paramount, 144 min, USA, Dir: Sidney J. Furie

Diana Ross earned an Oscar nomination for her feature debut as Billie Holiday in this loose adaptation of the legendary jazz singer’s autobiography. As she rises from Harlem brothel worker to Carnegie Hall headliner, Lady Day struggles with racism and drugs; Billy Dee Williams and Richard Pryor, respectively, play the angel and the devil on her shoulders.


RICHARD PRYOR LIVE ON THE SUNSET STRIP
1982, Sony Repertory, 82 min, USA, Dir: Joe Layton

Richard Pryor came back from his nearly fatal freebasing accident to create the best stand-up act of his career, captured beautifully in this landmark concert film by director Joe Layton and cinematographer Haskell Wexler. Pryor's riffs on marriage, the mob, Africa and his own drug problems are hilarious, but the underlying complexity of his material makes this the rare stand-up routine that's as poignant as it is funny.


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