Blue Collar

Blue Collar
Blue Collar

Recommended by Ralph Mellon

A profanity-laden, downbeat but brilliant movie from 1978 about how corruption extends its sinister reach a little further than we realise.

The first picture directed by Paul Schrader, it features Zeke (Richard Pryor), Jerry (Harvey Keitel) and ex-con Smokey (Yaphet Kotto), production workers on a car assembly line in Detroit, who grow frustrated at the monotony of their working lives and the struggle to survive financially.

They decide to rob their trade union, as they feel it’s ripping them off even worse than the management, but their plan has some unexpected consequences.

Despite on-set problems with drug abuse and racial tension, it’s a great film.

Pryor shows a few trademark comic touches but it’s probably the best straight performance he ever gave, while the other principal character is the factory itself, which towers large above all around it and radiates noise, sparks, grime and sweat.

There’s a superb opening title song by Captain Beefheart, to the most classic blues riff ever.