Every decade or so, Hollywood produces a movie that is not only entertaining but also raises the question just what is entertainment.
The 1934 musical “Stand Up and Cheer,” in which the president of the United States appoints a secretary of amusement to dispel the Depression, is an example of what could be called meta-entertainment. Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy” (1983) and Ben Stiller’s “Cable Guy” (1996), both self-reflexively predicated on characters who are mass-culture personified, are others. So is Michael Schultz’s 1976 “Car Wash.”
A movie in which mass media, specifically radio, exerts a powerful influence on its characters’ lives, “Car Wash” is an energetic, vulgar, socially conscious farce — scored by the master of psychedelic soul Norman Whitfield and focusing on a single day at the Dee-Luxe Car Wash in downtown Los Angeles. It manages to have its cake and eat it too: The film is simultaneously downbeat and uplifting. The New York Times critic Vincent Canby called it “a terrifically shrewd piece of movie-making,” noting that “if ‘Car Wash’ makes no comment on our pop culture, it’s because it’s a piece of it.”
Yet “Car Wash” does comment on itself: The contradictions between their labor and our leisure are manifest in the irresistible title song. Punctuated by the exhortation “work and work and work,” the song by the soul group Rose Royce explains that while the Dee-Luxe is “no place to be if you plan on being a star” (never mind that at least in the final credits just about everyone gets to be one), it’s “better than digging a ditch” (what isn’t?) and “the boss don’t mind if you act the fool” (of course not). Heard over the radio, the tune sets the Dee-Luxe employees bopping while they work in a speeded-up version of the Funky Robot dance. Has a -an-hour job ever been more fun?
“Car Wash” evolved out of the 1970s blaxploitation genre: Schultz, the director, had a hit with the coming-of-age drama “Cooley High,” and the screenplay was by Joel Schumacher, who wrote the Motown-influenced showbiz musical, “Sparkle.” In other ways, too, “Car Wash” is a quintessential 1970s film. Political exhaustion and economic recession are never far below its candy-colored surface.
Unsympathetic reviewers saw “Car Wash” as a lowbrow imitation of “American Graffiti” (1973) or “Nashville” (1975). “It has no more class than Hostess Twinkie,” Pauline Kael wrote, adding “it, too, may make you gag.” But “Car Wash” is more a critique of those movies. That which was freewheeling and expansive, whether teenage car-culture in “American Graffiti” or boomtown star-making in “Nashville,” is here drastically downsized.
A microcosm of Hollywood, the Dee-Luxe is a stage, and everyone, except perhaps the anxious boss, Mr. B (Sully Boyar), and his gruff ex-con employee, Lonnie (Ivan Dixon), entertains a fantasy or at least wields a shtick. Fittingly, the cast is packed with stand-up comics — Franklyn Ajaye, George Carlin, Irwin Corey and Richard Pryor. The most compelling dreams belong to the playfully romantic T.C. (Ajaye) and the sullen black nationalist Abdullah (Bill Duke), formerly Duane.
T.C.’s childish fantasy of being a black superhero parallels that of the boss’s pot-smoking son (Richard Brestoff), who wears a Mao T-shirt and tells dad’s employees, “Brothers, I’m here to unite with you!” Abdullah’s tortured self-invention is contrasted with that of the self-confident snappy queen Lindy (Antonio Fargas) who, in the movie’s best-known line, tells Abdullah, “I’m more man than you’ll ever be and more woman than you’ll ever get.”
Abdullah also mixes it up with and fails to faze the resplendently smiling Daddy Rich (Pryor), the founder of the Church of Divine Economic Spirituality, transported to the Dee-Luxe in a gold limousine accompanied by a glam gospel trio (the Pointer Sisters). Their song is an utterly transparent riff on his con man’s appeal: “You gotta believe in something, why not believe in me?”
The Dee-Luxe crew includes Latinos, a Native American and one hapless white dude, but the perspective is black. Not that the African-American press was universally favorable. The Amsterdam News called “Car Wash” “something Stephen Foster might have written about a day in the life of black folk on an antebellum plantation.” Or a movie lot. That the harried owner, his nitwit son and the brash, insecure cashier played by Melanie Mayron are Jewish suggests that the carwash might be a metaphor for the entertainment industry.
The Jewish characters are well-meaning but clueless, like Carlin’s white liberal cabdriver. The white customers are privileged brats basically making a mess for media-addled minimum-wage workers to clean up. The Guardian, a Marxist weekly — fancifully suggesting an ideological connection to Lenin’s manifesto “What Is to Be Done?” — noted that the movie “poses the day-to-day practical experience of the working class against the ‘abstract’ theory of those who would politicize it.”
“Car Wash” has its flaws. The most obvious is that the female roles are underwritten and cursory, including the glum hooker played by Schultz’s wife, Lauren Jones. But the movie is sensitive to heartache, Abdullah’s not the least. “It’s all falling apart, man,” he admits to Lonnie, whose situation is only marginally less hopeless. However the bright orange uniforms worn by Dee-Luxe employees appeared in 1976, they now seem eerily predictive of prison jumpsuits. The perfunctory happy ending is suffused with melancholy.
Yet to be included in the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry, “Car Wash” is a landmark. It provided a showcase for Pryor, the most bankable black star between Sidney Poitier and Eddie Murphy, who was subsequently directed by Schultz in “Greased Lightning” and “Which Way Is Up?” (both 1977). “Car Wash” also features Garrett Morris, an original member of the “Saturday Night Live” cast, and is distinguished by the presence of two notable directors, Ivan Dixon and Bill Duke, as well as the multitalented pioneer Clarence Muse.
It was the first movie by an African-American director shown in competition at Cannes; there would not be another until Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” a 1989 film for which “Car Wash” furnished a template. Schultz serves as a template himself — he directed more feature-length Hollywood movies than any black director before Lee.
“Car Wash” is available on Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, iTunes, Google Player, and Starz; “Cooley High” is available on Vudu.B:
六合高手心水区【齐】【莞】【对】【杜】【明】【泽】【提】【出】【了】【一】【个】【要】【求】，【实】【在】【是】【她】【没】【时】【间】【跟】【他】【耗】【了】，【再】【不】【回】【去】，【她】【的】【参】【赛】【资】【格】【就】【保】【不】【住】【了】。 【杜】【明】【泽】【没】【想】【到】【她】【的】【真】【实】【身】【份】【居】【然】【是】【当】【年】【名】【震】【星】【辰】【大】【陆】【的】**【夫】【妇】【的】【女】【儿】。 【但】【他】【并】【没】【有】【什】【么】【可】【忌】【惮】【的】，【也】【并】【不】【想】【放】【她】【走】。 【齐】【莞】【知】【道】【后】【淡】【淡】【的】【瞥】【了】【他】【一】【眼】，【道】“【如】【果】【你】【想】【要】【摆】【脱】【这】【个】【诅】【咒】，【最】【好】【多】【顺】【着】【我】【一】【点】
【听】【到】【小】【仙】【儿】【的】【话】，【牧】【灵】【九】【有】【些】【疑】【惑】。 “【小】【仙】【儿】，【你】【是】【不】【是】【对】【系】【统】【有】【什】【么】【了】【解】?” 【当】【初】【小】【仙】【儿】【进】【到】【神】【灵】【小】【界】，【对】【身】【为】【系】【统】【的】【碰】【瓷】【好】【像】【并】【没】【有】【什】【么】【惊】【讶】【之】【色】，【等】【等】，【现】【在】【想】【想】【不】【止】【是】【她】【还】【有】【小】【奉】【树】【老】【头】【皆】【是】【这】【样】。 【按】【理】【说】【这】【样】【一】【个】【新】【科】【技】【新】【物】【种】【出】【现】【在】【他】【们】【眼】【前】，【多】【多】【少】【少】【会】【有】【些】【好】【奇】【吧】。 “【没】【错】，【记】【忆】【中】
【邱】【之】【说】【道】，“【那】【是】【当】【然】【了】，【只】【不】【过】【我】【们】【需】【得】【有】【耐】【心】，【兔】【子】【的】【奔】【跑】【速】【度】【比】【较】【快】，【抓】【它】【们】【的】【时】【候】，【一】【定】【要】【小】【心】【翼】【翼】，【还】【得】【迅】【速】。” “【好】。”【文】【淑】【君】【马】【上】【点】【头】【表】【示】【自】【己】【已】【经】【听】【明】【白】【了】，【听】【了】【邱】【之】【的】【话】【后】，【她】【不】【禁】【在】【心】【里】【感】【慨】【着】，【听】【起】【来】【想】【要】【抓】【住】【一】【两】【只】【兔】【子】【还】【真】【的】【不】【是】【一】【件】【那】【么】【容】【易】【的】【事】【情】。 【这】【时】【候】，【文】【淑】【君】【看】【到】【在】【树】六合高手心水区【冬】【天】【虽】【然】【不】【知】【道】【自】【己】【这】【个】【妇】【人】【一】【直】【抱】【着】【自】【己】，【还】【哭】【着】，【但】【是】，【他】【也】【没】【有】【推】【开】【她】，【任】【由】【她】【抱】【着】。 【可】【是】，【总】【不】【能】【看】【着】【她】【一】【直】【哭】【吧】，【虽】【然】【他】【还】【小】，【可】【是】，【他】【还】【是】【知】【道】【啊】，【开】【心】【了】【就】【会】【笑】，【不】【开】【心】【才】【会】【哭】。 【所】【以】，【他】【小】【声】【说】，“【别】，【别】【哭】。” 【徐】【有】【余】【放】【开】【他】，“【你】，【你】【说】【什】【么】？” “【我】【说】，【不】【要】【哭】，【不】【要】【不】【开】【心】
【郭】【天】【叙】【恼】【火】【之】【极】，【马】【上】【把】【张】【天】【祐】【叫】【过】【来】【训】【话】，【当】【场】【打】【起】【了】【官】【腔】，【黑】【着】【脸】【道】：“【张】【元】【帅】，【咱】【们】【已】【经】【耽】【搁】【行】【程】【了】，【命】【令】【你】【的】【主】【攻】【部】【队】【加】【快】【前】【进】！” 【唉】，【他】【们】【不】【听】【话】，【我】【也】【没】【有】【办】【法】【啊】！ 【张】【天】【祐】【焦】【头】【烂】【额】，【愁】【眉】【苦】【脸】【地】【还】【未】【说】【话】，【他】【手】【下】【的】【三】【万】【士】【兵】【突】【然】【惊】【喜】【高】【呼】【一】【声】。 【一】【个】【个】【像】【是】【打】【了】【鸡】【血】，【提】【着】【刀】【就】【往】【前】【跑】【去】
【第】【两】【百】【四】【十】【三】【章】【给】【你】【两】【个】【选】【择】 “【是】【谁】！【出】【来】！” 【萧】【盐】【大】【喝】，【连】【忙】【握】【紧】【大】【刀】！【他】【的】【神】【识】【一】【直】【在】【留】【意】【四】【周】【的】【情】【况】，【没】【想】【到】【附】【近】【藏】【着】【人】，【他】【竟】【然】【没】【有】【发】【现】。 【立】【刻】【警】【惕】【起】【来】，：“【赶】【紧】【出】【来】，【我】【已】【经】【看】【到】【你】【了】。” 【夜】【无】【涯】：“……” 【花】【冷】【月】：“……” 【你】【萧】【盐】【是】【把】【当】【观】【众】【当】【傻】【子】【呢】？ 【树】【上】，【音】【音】，