Blue Collar


D: Paul Schrader 

Universal / T.A.T. Communications (Don Guest)

US 🇺🇸 1978

114 mins


W: Paul Schrader & Leonard Schrader

DP: Bobby Byrne

Ed: Tom Rolf

Mus: Jack Nitzsche

Richard Pryor (Zeke Brown), Yaphet Kotto (Sam ‘Smokey’ James), Harvey Keitel (Jerry Bartowski), Ed Begley, Jr. (Bobby Joe), Harry Bellaver (Eddie Johnson), Lane Smith (Clarence Hill)

Paul Schrader’s directorial debut stars Richard Pryor (in a rare dramatic role), Yaphet Kotto & Harvey Keitel as three automobile factory workers in Michigan, who decide to steal from their union. 

Though the returns from their heist are lower than they expected, they discover evidence of corruption, which they use for blackmail, but become increasingly paranoid, before ultimately turning on each other.

It’s a typically gritty, salty crime drama in line with the decade that it was made, though also reminiscent of the “angry young man” melodramas that came out of the UK over a decade earlier.

Paul Schrader’s follow up screenplay to 1976’s Taxi Driver does creep a little slowly, especially in the opening act, but the performances carry the film, especially Richard Pryor, who proves there’s much more to his acting abilities than the usual funnyman act that he leaned into a lot more in the decade that followed.


Blue Collar
Blue Collar