Soul Jazz Records are presenting Car Wash (1976) as part of their celebration of USA Blaxploitation/black cinema in the 1970s.
Rare one-off screening of this fantastic 1976 black comedy/music film starring Richard Pryor, The Pointer Sisters, Antonio Fargas (‘Huggy Bear’ in Starsky and Hutch) with a seriously funky groovy soundtrack throughout the film from the Norman Whitfield-produced Rose Royce.
40 years after it’s initial release we see that the themes that this mainstream comedy dealt with parallel heavyweight political black films such as Spike Lee’s seminal Do the Right Thing or, and even prod at the left-wing agitation and provocation of Jean Luc Godard.
Essentially the theme is the camaraderie of a group of African-American men as the enjoy life whilst each also deals in various ways with the everyday racism of American society – leading to a depressing comparison with America under Donald Trump today, 40 years later.
The film is an all-black ensemble humanist look at everyday African-American life circa 1976 with many, many memorable characters:
Richard Pryor guests as a money-grabbing evangelist preacher, complete with his disciples, the hip Pointer Sisters. Antonio Fargas plays a very funny gay cross-dressing man, “both funny and challenging through his gay militancy.”
Ivan Dixon plays an ex-convict. As an actor Dixon had earlier starred in the seminal black film Nothing But A Man (Malcolm X’s favourite film) and directed the Blaxploitation movies Trouble Man and the radical The Spook Who Sat By The Door.
Bill Duke plays Abdullah – as post-Black Power radical whose anger pulsates throughout the film. There are also a host of funny characters – the white “Mao-inspired communist’ son of the car wash-owner who wants to work alongside ‘the workers’. ‘The Fly’ who impersonates a fly!, two friends obsessed by The Temptations.
Add together a seriously catchy soundtrack from Rose Royce, The Pointer Sisters & others (tracks include Car Wash, I Just Wanna Get Next To You, Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is) and this film rocks!
Car Wash was made at the zenith of the Blaxploitation-era of black films made in the USA in the 1970s. Populist in intent, not exploitative in any way, the film was significantly one of the last black-ensemble cast films made in the USA before the arrival of the blockbuster movies of Jaws, Star Wars etc essentially led to a dismantling by the mainstream Hollywood studios of this genre which whilst genre-led, nevertheless presented black life on the large screen for the first time.
Written by Joel Schumaker and directed by Michael Schultz, this musical comedy/drama follows the goings-on of a Los Angeles car wash
The film will be introduced by Stuart Baker (head of Soul Jazz Records) and also followed by a free funk and soul DJ-set from Soul Jazz Records in the bar.
- BBFC rating
- Running time
- 97 mins
- Michael Schultz
- Richard Pryor, Franklyn Ajaye, Darrow Igus