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ReFocus: The Films of Paul Schrader$
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Michelle E. Moore and Brian Brems

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474462037

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474462037.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 06 July 2022

“Thinking White”: Performing Racial Tension in Blue Collar

“Thinking White”: Performing Racial Tension in Blue Collar

Chapter:
(p.71) Chapter 4 “Thinking White”: Performing Racial Tension in Blue Collar
Source:
ReFocus: The Films of Paul Schrader
Author(s):

Scott Balcerzak

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474462037.003.0005

By most accounts, as Paul Schrader’s first film as director, Blue Collar was a tension-filled production with the three leading actors coming to blows on multiple occasions. This chapter, will explore the performance styles of Harvey Keitel, Yaphet Kotto, and Richard Pryor with particular focus paid to the latter’s identity as a stand-up comic and movie star during the mid- to late- 1970s. Through casting Pryor, Schrader does not fundamentally alter this comic persona but rather captures a dramatic variation of it, employing it as a defying signifier against the midcentury “realist” acting styles of Keitel and Kotto, who both trained on the New York stage. Through a fostering and challenging of Pryor’s persona and style, Schrader produces a tension between his performers that feels acutely aware of the comedian’s “territorialized” black identity as well as his ability to challenge racial boundaries through his humor. The contrasting styles of Keitel, Kotto, and Pryor provide a dramatic tension attuned to the complicated racial conflicts found in the more integrated work spaces of the 1970s.

Keywords:   Paul Schrader, Blue Collar, Yaphet Kotto, Harvey Keitel, Richard Pryor, Acting, Actor, Black Identity, Comedy in Film, 1970s

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