Written by / 6/04/2020 / No comments / , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

QUICK REVIEW & YAPHET KOTTO REFLECTION OF 'BLUE COLLAR'

Yaphet Kotto with Richard Pryor and Harvey Keitel in Paul Schrader's BLUE COLLAR Year: 1978 Rating: ****
"The whole thing," shares iconic black actor Yaphet Kotto of BLUE COLLAR, "had become one improvisation after another... But if my memory serves me correct, director Paul Schrader told me, Harvey Keitel and Richard Pryor to improvise because he said we were 'Director Proof' actors and to 'improvise when you feel it’s necessary'; yet when we did as directed, I’m told he was annoyed — but he was lucky to have had us: The movie is a classic."

And after writing Martin Scorsese's TAXI DRIVER, it's Paul Schrader's directorial debut: An underrated gem caught between the end of blaxploitation and the beginning of the end for the drug culture during the gloriously gritty 1970's: also the "Renaissance Period" of directors having complete control — and yet the lack of control is what really works...
Yaphet Kotto, Harvey Keitel and Richard Pryor feeling blue after another coke party in BLUE COLLAR
In a film both "director proof" and plot-proof — so by the time one rears up, having to do with breaking into a Union office safe — you'll already know these guys as they sat around a bar, drinking; dealt with family troubles; snorted coke at a weekend orgy; bitched about the car factory and overall lack of funds: All this possibly changing after the heist that, like any "found treasure" flick, ignites some real (and dangerous) trouble...

Which is ironically when the pace becomes a tad slow and uneven: especially since hanging out flowed more naturally than their inevitable descent. But the characters remain the most important element, led by a mustache-free Richard Pryor in a sublime mix of burdened drama and jive-talkin' comedy...
Richard Pryor in BLUE COLLAR with Harvey Keitel
Harvey Keitel, our token idealist/hero, eventually ignites Pryor's performance into an even deeper level of unpredictable, even formidable prowess. And Yaphet Kotto's the muscle — a kind of mentor/older brother/protector, and the only hope to keep the trio intact before the inevitable breakdown, and his scene-stealing character Smokey's heartbreaking demise, locked inside a paint room... 

"
It was all right, no problems," Kotto said of his death scene. "We took about two days to shoot if my memory serves me right. The only thing that bothered me was that it was the second film in which my character dies and that bugged me a little. Otherwise everything else was cool." And his next film was ALIEN — where no one heard him scream, again!
Yaphet Kotto as Smokey in BLUE COLLAR
Yaphet Kotto in BLUE COLLAR
Yaphet Kotto in BLUE COLLAR with Harvey Keitel
Richard Pryor in BLUE COLLAR with workers Harry Northup and Ed Begley Jr.
Taxi Driver veteran Harry Northup in BLUE COLLAR
Harvey Keitel and co-worker Ed Begley Jr. in BLUE COLLAR
Harvey Keitel and co-worker Ed Begley Jr. in BLUE COLLAR with Richard Pryor
Paul Schrader's dark comedy heist drama BLUE COLLAR
FBI agent Cliff DeYoung and Yaphet Kotto in BLUE COLLAR
Richard Pryor in BLUE COLLAR
Richard Pryor in BLUE COLLAR with Chip Fields (mother of Kim Fields)
Richard Pryor in BLUE COLLAR with Almeria Quinn
Richard Pryor in BLUE COLLAR with Chip Fields
Ed Begley Jr. reads Catch 22 in BLUE COLLAR
Harvey Keitel in BLUE COLLAR with Stacey Baldwin
Richard Pryor in BLUE COLLAR with Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto
Harvey Keitel as Jerry in BLUE COLLAR
Richard Pryor in BLUE COLLAR with Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto
Richard Pryor in BLUE COLLAR with Yaphet Kotto
Richard Pryor in BLUE COLLAR with union boss Harry Bellaver
Harvey Keitel as Jerry in BLUE COLLAR
Lucy Saroyan in BLUE COLLAR with Stacey Baldwin
Richard Pryor in BLUE COLLAR with Harvey Keitel
Diego Rivera inspired shot of Richard Pryor in BLUE COLLAR with Harvey Keitel
Richard Pryor in BLUE COLLAR with Harvey Keitel
Paul Schrader's BLUE COLLAR
Richard Pryor in BLUE COLLAR with Yaphet Kotto and Harvey Keitel
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