Three guys, two African-American, Zeke (Richard Pryor) and Smokey (Yaphet Kotto), and one Polish, Jerry (Harvey Keitel), are unhappy workers on the assembly line in a Detroit automobile factory. The three angry dudes all have money woes. The loudmouth Zeke pleads with his union rep (Lane Smith) for the last six months about fixing his locker with no results and is in debt to the Internal Revenue Service for claiming six children instead of his actual three. The married Jerry works two jobs to try and get out of debt, and still needs money for his daughter’s braces. Smokey is an ex-con and a bachelor, who acts like a Playboy and is in a jam because he owes his loan shark. The three pals decide to get even with the union that is only giving them lip service in representing them but really is in bed with the bossess, by robbing their headquarters. The masked armed robbery earns them a mere $600, but they unexpectedly snatch evidence of union corruption and union links with organized crime. They’re now out of their league, as violence, paranoia and recriminations erupt around them. —Ozus’ World Movie Reviews
Raised in a strict religious household in Michigan, writer/director Paul Schrader studied theology at Calvin College and didn’t see a movie until he was in his late teens. His stern background would fuel many of the themes throughout his career: downbeat stories of characters who violently break down in oppressive situations. Transfixed by the cinema and encouraged by critic Pauline Kael, he moved to Los Angeles and became a film scholar at U.C.L.A. He wrote movie reviews for newspapers, edited the magazine Cinema, and wrote the highly influential critical essay “The Trancendental Style: Ozu, Bresson, Dryer.” After a period of heavy drinking and serious depression, he sold his first screenplay, The Yakuza, a Japanese thriller co-written with his brother, Leonard, and Robert Towne. The next year, Schrader wrote Taxi Driver, the grim tale of urban alienation. Taxi Driver started his successful collaborative relationship with director Martin Scorsese, another… read more
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