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Blue Collar (Blu-Ray) Blu Ray

| Blu Ray

Paul Schrader had established his reputation as a screenwriter (The Yakuza and Taxi Driver, among others) before embarking on his directorial debut. Blue Collar is the story of three working-class guys at the Checker auto plant who run their local union office. Richard Pryor delivers a funny, passionate, seething performance in one of his rare dramatic roles as a rabble-rousing union man. Trapped by family worries and crippling back taxes, he dreams up the robbery after scoping out the joint and enlists his coworker and buddies, family man Harvey Keitel and high-living bachelor Yaphet Kotto, who are in similar financial straits. This is a strictly amateur-hour heist, and their successful getaway is the last bit of good luck in store for the trio. The robbery turns up no cash, only incriminating files, and the inept thieves are soon blackmailing the powerful union, which fights back with force, seduction, and murder. Schrader's first film has little of the polish or style he developed by American Gigolo, but his portrait of lower middle class families in 1970s Detroit, interracial relations, and male camaraderie is sharp and insightful. His attention to detail shows in every frame and adds to the edgy material, which balances the thriller plot with social commentary about corruption, labour relations, and the lure of power. Schrader's later films show more subtlety and cinematic confidence, but time hasn't dimmed the power he unleashes in this angry working class drama.--Sean Axmaker

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American drama in which Zeke Brown (Richard Pryor) and Jerry Bartkowski (Harvey Keitel) work at an auto plant in recession-hit Detroit. Aware that union membership no longer guarantees job security, the duo act on the suggestion of their ex-con friend Smokey (Yaphet Kotto) that they rob their local union safe. Instead of discovering wads of cash, Zeke and Jerry stumble upon evidence of union corruption and conspiracies, which they attempt to use to redress the balance.

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