Paul Shrader’s Blue Collar is on the few American films about real life working people. Set in Detroit in the 1970s the film follows three workers in motor city.
Shrader is a great writer, but this was his directorial debut and is still his best film, I think. While the script is sharp about race relations (the three friends are Richard Pryor, Yahpet Kotto and Harvey Keital) it’s also very realistic about living on the breadline in the USA.
Of course Keital is great, Kotto is brilliant too. The real standout is Pryor, he’s funny as you would expect but he’s also very realistic as the man who finally sells his friends out to the man (and you understand his reasons and his pain).
The film has some great sequences, some great music and displays some real insight into life for these characters. Of course, Detroit has changed now, some 30 years later it would be interesting to see where these men are now.
The film has one of the great non-violent on-screen murders and features a classic final freeze frame. The trailer can be seen below.
So, 69 films to go…
Matthew Cooper has written for Emmerdale, Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs. He was winner of the first ever Lloyds Bank Channel Four Film Challenge and the Oscar Moore Screenplay Prize. His first short film starred a then unknown Ewan McGregor and was picked up by Channel Four when Matthew was 19 years old. He’s been a script writer for hire and filmmaker for hire for over 20 years.