Blerd Film Club: Car Wash (1976)

Working at the car wash, most of us have never done it but we know the song. All of that comes from the 1976 film starring Antonio Fargas, Lauren Jones, Richard Pryor, Bill Duke, George Carlin and more celebrities than you can shake a stick at. Car Wash is a classic film that takes place at car wash of all places. It's a classic comedy that wasn't received well by anyone but Roger Ebert. Despite that, it still went on to become a cult classic and inspire several remakes.

The plot follows the workers of the car wash through their own subplots. There's not really a single major story that ties them together other than the fact that they all work at the car wash. I think that's one of the interesting things. All the stories are tied together but majority of them can stand on their own. Because of that, I'm not going to go over every character's stories. Just some of my favorites because there's well over a dozen. That includes an entire Danny Devito subplot that was cut from theatrical versions for time and only shown on Television because NBC didn't want to show too much of Lindy, but more on that later.

One of the first characters we're introduced to is Marlene, a prostitute played by Lauren Jones. She skips out on a cab bill to get to the car wash. The Cab driver is George Carlin who spends the rest of the movie giving her description to anyone that will listen. That includes Marlene because in her bag of tricks she has several wigs, dresses, fake breast, fake butts, condoms and everything else an enterprising prostitute would need. Marlene occupies a bathroom as a dressing room at the car wash and repeatedly rejects legit offers of dates because she is holding out hope for a customer she fell in love with. Throughout the film she repeatedly calls and doesn't get an answer. Her heart is broken. Lauren Jones doesn't have a lot of lines, but she has a lot of screen time. I think that's a testament to how strong her emotional acting was.

TC is a young man and a comic book artist. His character is The Fly, and he's been trying to sell The Fly, to any comic book company. He even has a home made T-Shirt for, The Fly. He's taken to calling himself, The Fly. He also wants to get back together with his ex Mona across the street. However, Mona refuses because she doesn't see any promise in a man who is a dreamer who still lives at home with his mother. In the end, they do get together because TC tells her to stop looking down on him since she's in the exact same situation but doesn't even have a dream to follow.

Now I want to talk about Lindy, played by Antonio Fargas, who was described as a "sophisticated sissie," by Angela Nelson. The reason being that Lindy is a flamboyantly gay man. He openly flirts with his coworkers and has no shame in who he is. He doesn't have major story other than, being himself. One of the most tense scenes in the film is when he confronts Abdullah who was bullying the son of Mr. B. Abdullah proceeds to call Lindy a woman and refer to him as such while complaining about how black men are being emasculated. Lindy steps forward almost daring Abdullah to fight.

Now let's talk about Dwayne, now calling himself Abdullah even when nobody else will. Well, almost nobody will. Abdullah has become upset with his life, the treatment of black people and joined an unnamed Nation of Islam offshoot. Due to constant late arrivals he starts to come into conflict with Mr. B, the boss. He's also driven the other employees crazy. The one person who tries to reason with him is Lonnie, a man recently released from prison. We see Lonnie's parole officer show up to see if he really goes to work. We see him tell his children to go home and do homework. We see Lonnie have his business plans brushed off and despite that he doesn't go down the path Dwayne did. That's not to say you're evil if you convert to Islam. No, Abdullah got fired for assaulting Mr. B's son and later came back to rob the place. When he did Lonnie talked to him until Abdullah pulled a gun on him. They talk some more, they cry and leave together the film ends on that moment.

Now there's plenty of other crazy characters. There's Earl who has declared himself manager and always reminds everyone "I don't get wet." His story is comical. There's Floyd and Loyd, the new Temptations, in their mind only. A revolving door of customers including a mad bomber. A cowboy with and STD. Richard Pryor as a con artist preacher who convinces everyone to pay him for letting them wash his car. There's so many memorable characters.

There's nothing super exciting about the way it's filmed but can we talk about the music? The music is incredible all throughout this. There's so many classic songs, that weren't even classics when they appeared in this movie. "I'm Going Down," by Rose Royce which would later be covered by Mary J. Blige and of course "Car Wash." "You Gotta Believe," from The Pointer Sisters. It's an incredible soundtrack from start to finish.

You kind of have to wash Car Wash. If not for me, then for yourself. You owe it to yourself to laugh at a grown man with mouse ears. Yes, there's problematic moments but for 1976, this is super progressive. You've got a prostitute promoting safe sex, a gay man who isn't bullied but instead is the voice of reason and even a mentor to some. You need to see Floyd and Loyd with their dance moves. The bad little kid on the skateboard and everything else. If for no other reason, watch for Daddy Rich.

You should buy Darrell's Book, watch him on the Blerds Online YouTube Channel or The CP Time and Powerbomb Jutsu podcasts. 
Blerd Film Club: Car Wash (1976) Blerd Film Club: Car Wash (1976) Reviewed by Blerds Online on Friday, September 07, 2018 Rating: 5

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