CAR WASH [1976 / 2016] [Blu-ray] [UK Release] CAR WASH . . . Where Anything Can Happen . . . And Usually Does! Get Set For Some Down and Dirty Fun!
‘CAR WASH’ is an earthy, irreverent but affectionate look at a typical day in a Los Angeles car wash. An ensemble piece which interweaves the lives of employees, customers and passers-by. ‘CAR WASH’ stars a gallery of gifted actors, most of whom are relatively unknown to movie goers, and spotlights an array of guest starts in vivid cameo roles, including George Carlin, "Professor" Irwin Corey, The Pointer Sisters and Richard Pryor as Daddy Rich, a flamboyant reverend who preaches the goodness of the dollar. Car Wash may qualify as the world's first "disco" movie and Norman Whitfield's almost non-stop musical score has become a top selling album.
‘CAR WASH’ is an episodic comedy about a day in the lives of the employees and the owner, Leon 'Mr. B' Barrow [Sully Boyar], of a Los Angeles, California car wash, which was filmed at a Westlake car wash at the corner of Rampart Boulevard and 6th Street.
FILM FACT No.1: Awards and Nominations: 1977 Golden Globes: Nomination: Best Original Song in a Motion Picture for Norman Whitfield for the son "(Theme from) Car Wash." 1977 Cannes Film Festival: Win: Best Music for Norman Whitfield. Win: Technical Grand Prize for Michael Schultz. Nomination: Palme d'Or for Michael Schultz. 1977 Grammy Awards: Win: Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special for Norman Whitfield.
FILM FACT No.2: ‘CAR WASH’ is famous for its infamous fantastic put down comment, where Abdullah [Bill Duke] who confronts Lindy [Antonio Fargas] and sharply criticises his cross-dressing, to which Lindy coolly replies, "I'm more man than you'll ever be and more woman than you'll ever get." Danny DeVito and Brooke Adams appeared in the film as Joe and Terry, the owners of a food stand called “Big Joe's Dog House” which is located next to the car wash. Though they had speaking roles, nearly all of their scenes were deleted from the theatrical version and they are only seen in the background. Their scenes were restored for the edited television version. The film also featured the speaking voices of local L.A. disc jockeys Jay Butler, J.J. Jackson, Rod McGrew, Sarina C. Grant, and Cleveland's Billy Bass, all heard in the background of the film on the fictional "KGYS" radio station. Originally the project was intended as a stage production, which would feature a replicate car wash on stage. Joel Schumacher was chosen to write based on his work writing "Sparkle.” Unusual for film production, the sound track was recorded prior to filming of the movie. The director wanted the actors to actually listen to the same music that would later be added in Post Production while filming the scenes.
Cast: Darrow Igus, Otis Day, James Spinks, Antonio Fargas, The Pointer Sisters, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Clarence Muse, Franklyn Ajaye, Tracy Reed, Bill Duke, Ivan Dixon, Henry Kingi, Pepe Serna, Ray Vitte, Jack Kehoe, Garrett Morris, Leon Pinkney, Renn Woods, Lorraine Gary, Lauren Jones, Leonard Jackson, Sully Boyar, Prof. Irwin Corey, Richard Brestoff, Melanie Mayron, Arthur French, Michael Fennell, Antonie Becker, Erin Blunt, Carmine Caridi, Reginald Farmer, Ricky Fellen, Ben Frommer, Cynthia Hamowy, Ed Metzger, Antar Mubarak, Derek Schultz, Mike Slaney, Al Stellone, Jackie Toles, Janine Williams, Otis Sistrunk, Tim Thomerson, Jason Bernard, Jay Butler (AM Disc Jockey voice), J.J. Jackson (2nd PM Disc Jockey voice), Rod McGrew (PM Disc Jockey voice), Sarina C. Grant (Newscaster voice), Billy Bass (Newscaster voice), Brooke Adams (scenes deleted), Benny Baker (scenes deleted), Danny DeVito (scenes deleted), Lewis Lillian (scenes deleted), Danny Tucker (scenes deleted), Sunny Woods (scenes deleted), Brian Gusse (uncredited), Anita Pointer (Wilson Sister) (uncredited), Bonnie Pointer (Wilson Sister) (uncredited), Ruth Pointer (Wilson Sister) (uncredited), Ruth Pointer (Wilson Sister) (uncredited) and Barbara Walden (uncredited)
Director: Michael Schultz
Producers: Art Linson, Don Phillips and Gary Stromberg
Screenplay: Joel Schumacher
Composer: Norman Whitfield
Cinematography: Frank Stanley (Director of Photography)
Image Resolution: 1080p (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo
Running Time: 96 minutes
Region: Region B/2
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Universal Pictures / Fabulous Films Limited
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘CAR WASH’  is a hugely enjoyable day in the life workplace comedy. Structurally episodic and with a huge cast of mostly unknown actors, the film just meanders around from one set up to the next. Directed by Michael Schultz and written by Joel Schumacher. ‘CAR WASH’ is a rambling, mostly pointless, but extremely funny film. The cast are clearly having a ball, and it comes across on screen.
It is early morning in the Los Angeles civilisation of thruways, service stations, used-car lots, quick-lunch spots and portable swimming pools sold at discount. The start of another day much like any other, the dawn coming up with the voice of a manic disk jockey whose spiel is so fast that the last syllable of one word becomes the first syllable of the next. The sentences are nonstop and, like the records the disk jockey plays, they don't have endings. No record is ever allowed to finish. It is dismissed. The volume is lowered until it is overwhelmed by the record following. It's a glorious, unending river of sound, a Far Western metaphor for life measured in decibels.
Thus begins ‘CAR WASH,’ a cheerful, somewhat vulgar, very cleverly executed comedy about what goes on in a single 10-hour period in a Los Angeles car wash. Written by Joel Schumacher, who wrote the screenplay for ‘Sparkle,’ and directed by Michael Schultz, who was responsible for the film ‘Cooley High.’ ‘CAR WASH,’ dips into and out of the lives of more than two dozen characters. It demobilises the old service comedy and returns it to civilian life in blithely free form.
Lonnie [Ivan Dixon], the ex-con; Duane [Bill Duke], the black activist; Lindy, [Antonio Fargas], the gay man whose wrist is limp and whose mouth is loud, and all the other workers at the car wash are updated G.I.'s out of uniform. Leon 'Mr. B' Barrow [Sully Boyar], the harried owner of the car wash, would once have been the C.O. and his nitwit son, played by Richard Brestoff, who carries Mao's little red book around, wears a Mao T-shirt and wants to liberate the workers, is the commandant's overeducated offspring who is, of course, no match for the enlisted men. It is a terrifically shrewd piece of film-making, with plenty of witty sarcastic comedy thrown in for good measure.
The members of the large and mostly black cast have created a cohesive comedy out of dozens of tiny pieces of narratives and one outstanding "cameo." This is the appearance of Richard Pryor as Daddy Rich, the founder-head of the Church of Divine Economic Spirituality, a fellow who drives a gold limousine with a license plate that spells T-I-T-H-E, which we are never explained what these initial letters mean, answers on a Post Card please.
Some of the others who turn up in the course of the day are Lauren Jones as a down-on-her-luck hooker with a sullen disposition and a different wig for every occasion, and Melanie Mayron, who plays the car-wash secretary, a moony young woman who spends more time on her nail polish than on the accounts and who at one point, manages to drop one contact lens into a jar of cold cream, how this happened is beyond me. There are also a mad bomber, played by Prof. Irwin Corey, as well as a ratty little boy who terrorizes the neighbourhood by being so good on a skate board, a woman who's fearful that her son's having been sick on her car door will ruin its finish, a would-be holdup man and on and on.
‘CAR WASH,’ has the most rhythm, most beat and drive of the rock songs that are playing throughout the film, virtually nonstop, all reflecting a certain contemporary mood without saying anything whatsoever about it. There is more depth to this film than meets the eye, at first. Thanks to the expertise of Schultz and his vast, various characters and incidents and the loudmouthed cab-driver and his hilarious liberal pretensions; the hysterical Mercedes driver with Vuitton bag and vomiting son; the grand arrival of Daddy Rich in a long gold limousine out of Tex Avery; the ecstatic encounters of T.C. with Disco Dan, Mona and his own glorified self-image; the “Quittin’ time” gag quoted from ‘Gone with the Wind;’ the wonderful image of big Hippo on his little motorbike and the film creates a dense and coherent world supporting this conclusion, by saying, “It’s all fallin’ apart, man,” Duane says, sobbing in Lonnie’s arms, “We’ll work it out together,” Lonnie replies. Conceivably the most sophisticated and accomplished ‘black exploitation’ film made to date, ‘CAR WASH’ expresses and embodies some of the complex truth of both sentiments, and for most of its running time is marvellously funny and inventive into the bargain.
As a final tribute to this brilliant cult classic 1976 film, I have to finish off in mentioning the fantastic Norman Whitfield composed film soundtrack, which contained the now famous definitive and ultimate Disco music of that period you hear throughout the film and the Blu-ray is well worth for the soundtrack alone.
CAR WASH MUSIC TRACK LIST
CAR WASH (Written and Produced by Norman Whitfield) [Performed by Rose Royce, and Orchestra conducted by Paul Riser]
6 O’CLOCK DJ (Let's Rock) (Written and Produced by Norman Whitfield) [Performed by Rose Royce, and Orchestra conducted by Paul Riser]
I WANNA GET NEXT TO YOU (Written and Produced by Norman Whitfield) [Performed by Rose Royce, and Orchestra conducted by Paul Riser]
PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS (Written and Produced by Norman Whitfield) [Performed by Rose Royce, and Orchestra conducted by Paul Riser]
ZIG, ZAG (Written and Produced by Norman Whitfield) [Performed by Rose Royce, and Orchestra conducted by Paul Riser]
YOU’RE ON MY MIND (Music by Henry Garner, Lyrics by Jobe 'Duke' Lequeint) [Performed by Rose Royce, and Orchestra conducted by Paul Riser]
MID DAY DJ THEME (Written and Produced by Norman Whitfield) [Performed by Rose Royce, and Orchestra conducted by Paul Riser]
BORN TO LOVE YOU (Written by Rose Royce) [Performed by Rose Royce]
DADDY RICH (Written and Produced by Norman Whitfield) [Performed by Rose Royce, and Orchestra conducted by Paul Riser]
RICHARD PRYOR DIALOGUE (Background music written by Norman Whitfield) (Background voice by Gwen Dickey) [Monologue by Richard Pryor]
YOU GOTTA BELIEVE (Music by Henry Garner, and Lyrics by Jobe 'Duke' Lequeint) [Performed by The Pointer Sisters]
I’M GOING DOWN (Written and Produced by Norman Whitfield) [Performed by Rose Royce, and Orchestra conducted by Paul Riser]
YO YO (Written by Rose Royce) [Performed by Rose Royce] [Additional guitar by Melvin Ragin]
SUNRISE (Written and Produced by Norman Whitfield) [Performed by Rose Royce, and Orchestra conducted by Paul Riser]
RIGHTEOUS RHYTHM (Written and Produced by Norman Whitfield) [Performed by Rose Royce, and Orchestra conducted by Paul Riser]
WATER (Written and Produced by Norman Whitfield) [Performed by Rose Royce, and Orchestra conducted by Paul Riser]
CRYING (Written by Rose Royce) [Performed by Rose Royce]
DOIN’ WHAT COMES NATURALLY (Written and Produced by Norman Whitfield) [Performed by Rose Royce, and Orchestra conducted by Paul Riser]
KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON (Written and Produced by Norman Whitfield) [Performed by Rose Royce, and Orchestra conducted by Paul Riser]
Blu-ray Image Quality – Universal Pictures and Fabulous Films Limited have come together to bring us this 40 year old film for a 2016 premiere United Kingdom only release. Here we get presented with a wonderful solid 1080p encoded image Blu-ray disc and the image for a film of this age is generally very colourful with a fine layer of grain and a reasonable amount of detail. There are no signs of damage or speckling that I could detect and to repeat colours are rich and vibrant with especially robust reds. I suspect this has been taken from a dated source used to create the previous widescreen DVD releases, but that said there is little to worry about, as they have done a really wonderful job. This really does show how good 35mm film can look when it has been well looked after; and a look I prefer to the more pristine feel of digitally shot productions. So all in all ‘CAR WASH’ gets definite thumbs up from me and also gets a definite a five star solid rating. I hope and wish Fabulous Films Limited will start to convert all of their DVD releases to this Blu-ray high standard and especially as solid as this one. Please Note: Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Universal Pictures and Fabulous Films Limited have once again come together to bring us this 40 year old film for a 2016 premiere United Kingdom only release and what can I say about this with this solid 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo, well what I can say is that they have given us a really solid robust audio experience, well it is a definite wow factor for a film of this age, which reflects the source material very well has some nice base in its musical moments, of which there are many. The Norman Whitfield and Rose Royce score comes over extremely well and compliments the action to the point where occasionally you'd think it was a musical. Dialogue is well defined and easy to follow, but sadly no English subtitles would have been nice for those whose hearing would not be able to pick some of the dialogue because of where certain scenes were filmed. Much of the dialogue is street slang of the period and may not understand the language in 2016 and is less familiar with the terminology. So overall for an old 1976 mono original soundtrack production, bringing this film out on this Blu-ray release with a stunning solid 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo is pure genius, but of course if they had upgraded it to a 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack that would have been even nicer especially with the totally amazing Norman Whitfield brilliant song compositions you get to hear throughout the film and again gets a solid 5 star rating from me and was well worth the wait to have this brilliant film brought up-to-date on this equally brilliant Blu-ray disc release.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
All New! Audio Commentary from Director Michael Schultz: Here we get to hear Michael Schultz say, “The film ‘CAR WASH’ was a fun film to make and it was all shot on location is down town Los Angeles, near MacArthur Park at a terrific little place on Rampart Boulevard and 6th Street and it was my first Hollywood movie.” Michael also mentions that that it was also a film that he almost didn’t get to make, because when he first read the original script it was just a series of humorous incidents and wacky characters and he felt if the film had any lasting value, then it needed to have characters that audiences could relate to, and needed something throughout the film to hold it together. The Universal Studio felt that you could not bring together drama and comedy, since they bought the story solely just for the comedy, and eventually Michael persuade Universal Studio to with his approach. Michael starts to talk about the soundtrack, especially the radio announcers and the disc jockeys, to work their magic on the radio being broadcast to the car wash. As Michal reflects on the film in 2016, he is glad he got the film set up right, especially with all the characters we see throughout the film. Michael informs us that some of the actors worked with Michael on the New York stage and other actors were new to him at the time of filming, but one thing is that he liked their style and all their energetic performances they portrayed throughout the film. With the locker scene, was specially built for the film and was located directly opposite the car wash, so there was no time wasted for the actors travelling back and forth. One thing that surprised me was that Michael tells us that the Black Community thought the Black actors were too stereo typical black characters and was offended; well see that is why us in the United Kingdom are offended by the narrow minded Black American remarks, and Michael feels the Black Americans missed the whole point in the film, and sadly Michael was prevented in America to get any kind of Award. Another amazing fact we get to hear, is that the Black Hooker in the film, was actually Michael Schultz’s wife, whose stage name is Lauren Jones. The guy who was the “shoe shine” guy, was in the original film ‘The Jazz Singer,’ and would tell lots of stories about his life in films and acting, but was also very excited at seeing a Black Director making a film. Michael was asked by the Producers Art Linson and Gary Stromberg if he would mind working with Composer Norman Whitfield, who was hired to do all the music and of course Michael said, “You out of your mind, I would love to work with Norman Whitfield, because he is the best around,” especially as Norman Whitfield was involved with the Motown sound. Michael asked Norman Whitfield to come up with three specific songs for the film and of course Norman Whitfield produced one of the most famous song of all, and of course was the Title song of the film and of course was called “Car Wash” which of course became a mega hit around the world, which also helped to make the film ‘CAR WASH’ become also a massive worldwide box office hit, and of course when shooting the film, that specific song was blasted out, so the actors could get down to their groove thing. Michael also informs us that when the film was finished, he invited the Universal Picture Executives and the Marketing people to a screening, and after viewing the film, the Marketing people said, “this is a Black Film, how do we sell this film,” and Michael was stunned by such negative comments, and also commented on the fact that there were equal amount of White people in the film, so Michael said to them, “Why can’t you promote the film as a comedy, as well as a musical, because that is what it is and also sell the music theme of the film,” but in the end Michael had to basically show Universal Picture how to promote the film, as well as show the fun side of the film, and not to worry about whether film is aimed at a Black or White audience. Michael talks about the script and how rich it was and especially how all the characters bounced off each other, and show the fabric of society in down town Los Angeles at the time of shooting the film. One thing Michael was worried about filming it at the actual car wash, was the noise pollution of the surrounding area with all the traffic and general noise of the city, and of course to record the actors speaking their lines was nigh on impossible, so 90% of the recording had to be done post sync in the recording studio. Another interesting fact the Michael reveals, is that his film ‘CAR WASH’ was entered into the main competition at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival, and the jury consisted of two American judges, who were critics Pauline Kael and Rex Reed, plus a French Director and other Cannes judges, who informed Michael that everyone on the pane, apart from the two American Critics Judges love the film and thought it was fresh and an incredible look at American Society in the 1970s and especially using the car was as a vehicle to show this and they also felt the film was very innovative, but again the two ignorant American Critics hated the film and classed it as “Pop Culture” and not “Art Culture” and so the thick Americans would not go along with the European Judges, so the Cannes Film Festival came up with a Special Award for the film ‘CAR WASH’ and also gave an Award to Norman Whitfield for the the music soundtrack, so Michael walked away from the Cannes Film Festival head held high with the two Awards. Michael then tells us that in 1985 he attended the Moscow Film Festival and the Russians had a totally different take on the film, were they though the Americans in the film were struggling against the proletariat and the workers, and especially fighting against the Boss and Michael was also very fascinated in sitting in the cinema with 500 Russians viewing ‘CAR WASH’ on a massive giant screen and having the American language translated into Russian in “real time” by one person on the side of the stage in front of the screen with a microphone. Michael also talks about back at the time of film being shot, that there was this famous American Preacher who would raise millions of $Dollars, and was called Reverend Ike [Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II] who was an electronic evangelist based in New York City, and Michael wanted to him to appear in his film, but when Reverend Ike was explained the outline of the story, he reluctantly turned down the part in the film, so instead they came up with a master stroke and hired the Black comedian Richard Pryor to appear in the film instead, and it was a day’s shoot and of course Richard Pryor was supposed to be a parody of Reverend Ike and was named “Daddy Rich.” Michael really praised Ricard Pryor and especially with all the added nuisances he added to his character. Michael had to convince Universal Picture Executives that he wanted to shoot the film in chronological order, instead of the normal way you shoot films, but of course this made the film more expensive, but felt the characters would react together in a much better way, and so Universal Picture Executives gave Michael to go ahead and film it his way, but while filming they still had not come up with a proper ending to the film. As we get near to the end of the film, Michael says that he was finally coming to the end of a long struggle to finish the film, he was also two days over schedule and over budget, and Michael was being pressurised in wanting to know when the film would be finished and he told Universal Picture to allow him to finish the film as in the script, so they allowed him that freedom to finish the film. Especially with the scene at the end of the film where Abdullah [Bill Duke] has the gun and the older wiser character in the film talks to him like a father to his son to calm him down, but to find out what happened you will have to purchase this only UK Blu-ray disc release, but what I can say, is that the ending is a totally thought provoking ending, and especially how brilliant this film was direct by Michael Schultz and I could not sum up the words any better by Michael Schultz when he says, “I hope I have given humanity to the characters in the film, that could easily have really been stereo typical types of characters, especially the fact that the film is still being viewed 40 years after its cinema release and I feel it has reached a lot of people and is grateful to have been a part of its creation.” I also feel this sums up what I feel about this brilliant film and still stands the test of time and it is definitely one of my many all-time favourite films.
Finally, well what can one say about this brilliant 1976 film release of ‘CAR WASH,’ well for a start I have to congratulate Universal Pictures and Fabulous Films Limited for their tireless effort and have produced something that definitely has the WOW factor and especially having this Blu-ray disc release that is not available anywhere else in the world and exclusive to a United Kingdom release. Plus of course giving us the choice of hearing once again a slice of cult 1970s goodness; and a film I have not viewed for a very long and was well worth the wait which of course and in doing so I give this brilliant film directed by the equally brilliant Michael Schultz and the very impressive Blu-ray disc my highest praise and especially for collectors and film buffs of this genre. The new 2016 commentary by Michael Schultz is brilliant and very informative; but what a shame they could not of included some additional documentary footage could not been put together, as Joel Schumacher would have been wonderful as either a commentator or being interviewed and especially with any of the surviving actors. So all in all, what we have is a film we can genuinely celebrate and especially in having a good solid Blu-ray disc presentation of a very good fun filled wonderful musical film, that all of us can now enjoy for many years to come, especially having it upgraded to a good solid colourful 1080p encoded image. So all in all love this film! It's one of those films that makes you feel like you're really with the guys at the Deluxe Carwash during a typical day in 1976. For such a large cast I felt it did a great job in helping you relate to each character. I also think it's downright funny with a social message thrown. If you like stuff that is off-beat, then this is definitely for you. If you're feeling a little funky, especially hearing the brilliant compositions from Norman Whitfield and especially hearing the songs produced by the equally wonderful Rose Royce, then again this is the film for you. If on the other hand you prefer "normal" films with lots of action and no characterisation, then this is not the one for you. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado
Le Cinema Paradiso