Car Wash

1976, Movie, PG, 97 mins

Review

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Low-key comedy detailing a day in the life of an L.A. car wash, featuring an ensemble cast of superb performers. Basically plotless, the film shows the lives, hopes, dreams, ambitions, and foibles of the multiracial employees and customers of the Dee-Luxe Car Wash through comic vignettes. T.C. (Franklyn Ajaye), who's invented and hopes to market a black superhero named The Fly, pines for waitress Mona (Tracy Reed) and hopes to impress her by winning tickets to a concert through a radio phone-in contest. Brothers Floyd and Lloyd (Darrow Igus, DeWayne Jessie) hope to make it big as singers, while ex-con Lonnie (Ivan Dixon) just wants to stay straight and support his family. Frustrated Dwayne (Bill Duke) has joined the Nation of Islam and renamed himself Abdullah, but still feels trapped by institutionalized racism. A flashy hooker (Lauren Jones) stiffs a cabbie (George Carlin), and spends the day moping around the car wash, trying to track down the john who broke her heart. Sassy drag queen Lindy (Antonio Fargas) flirts and calls the other workers on their lies and self-deluded pretentions. Meanwhile, sad-sack owner Mr. B (Sully Boyar) worries that his college-student son Irwin (Richard Brestoff), who's hoping to strike up some solidarity with the workers by reading to them from Chairman Mao's little red book, will discover that he's having an affair with front-desk girl Marsha (Melanie Mayron). One of many highlights has Richard Pryor as fancy-pants preacher Daddy Rich, who arrives in his gold limousine accompanied by the Pointer Sisters, who break into impromptu song. Norman Whitfield's great musical score is integrated into the movement of the scenes to give the film a funky rhythm. Director Schultz, one of the first mainstream Black filmmakers, also helmed the spirited inner-city comedy COOLEY HIGH. For trivia buffs: The radio DJ whose smooth patter is the running background to the action is J.J. Jackson, who later became one of MTV's founding five DJs, and Danny DeVito appears in some prints of the film as a hot dog vendor. His scenes were cut before the film's theatrical release, but restored to TV prints after the success of the sitcom Taxi made him a household name. leave a comment

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