Quick-Thoughts: Paul Schrader’s Blue Collar (1978)

Screened at The New York Film Forum

This feels almost like another On the Waterfront (1954) situation where the basic plot and themes of the narrative may not come as that much of a shock to viewers since its blueprint has been countlessly rescanned and res**ted out over the past couple decades, but Blue Collar is so intimately performed and written on its own terms that it actually holds power over most of the work subsequently inspired by it. 

Opening credits don’t usually stick with me, but the disturbingly elongated remix of Mannish Boy paired with the montage of workers in the factory felt so surreal to me in how mechanical it was executed, as if the workers were nothing but parts of the machines themselves. From there on out though the movie is absolutely hilarious with every line speeding off the lips of Richard Pryor being nothing but pure gold, only then for the film to steadily become more of a horror story than a hardy, collaborative “sting” one as the lead characters learn more and more about the company that dictates their livelihood and become newer, scarier people and friends because of it as their social statuses are inflated. The industrial blue collar warehouse begins revealing itself as an allegory for a literal slaughterhouse of our well and moral-beings when in the hands of greedy upper-divisions. The intentional tonal shifts in this are dexterous, leaving harrowing impacts on the audience unlike your usual deconstruction of conventional social corruptions. 

Verdict: A-

Paul Schrader Ranked

“Blue Collar” is now available to rent on Amazon Prime.

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