The working class in Schrader’s Blue Collar (1978)

Wheeler, Mark (2023) The working class in Schrader’s Blue Collar (1978). In: This hard land: scenes from the American working class. Lexington Books. (Submitted)


This chapter examines Paul Schrader’s directorial debut Blue Collar (1978) with reference to its entrapment of three Detroit autoworkers. Within this rust-belt drama, two of the men are black --- the thirty year-old Ezekiel ‘Zeke’ Brown (Richard Pryor) and the two-time ‘loser’ ex-convict thirty-five-year-old Sam ‘Smokey’ James (Yaphet Kotto) --- and one is white --- the thirty two year old Polish American Jerry Bartowski (Harvey Keitel). (Schrader and Schrader 1978) Due to the fictional American Union of Autoworkers’ (AAW) (representing the real life Union of Autoworkers (UAW)) indifference to their poor working conditions, the trio break into their local branches’ safe.

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