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Car Wash (1976)

A comedic take on the daily life of a car wash employees, chronicling their hopes, fears, joys, dreams and tribulations. And meeting a few eccentric costumers along the way.

Director:

Michael Schultz

Writer:

Joel Schumacher
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Darrow Igus Darrow Igus ... Floyd
Otis Day ... Lloyd (as De Wayne Jessie)
James Spinks ... Hippo
Antonio Fargas ... Lindy
The Pointer Sisters ... The Wilson Sisters
Richard Pryor ... Daddy Rich
George Carlin ... The Taxi Driver
Clarence Muse ... Snapper
Franklyn Ajaye ... T.C.
Tracy Reed ... Mona
Bill Duke ... Duane - Abdullah
Ivan Dixon ... Lonnie
Henry Kingi ... Goody
Pepe Serna ... Chuco
Ray Vitte ... Geronimo
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Storyline

This movie is about a close-knit group of employees who one day have all manner of strange visitors coming onto their forecourt, including Richard Pryor as a preaching "wonder-man" who is loved by most, but loathed by one, and a man who looks like a thief by the way he is holding his bottle, but it is really his urine sample as he is off to the hospital. T.C.'s love life takes a turn for the better, and the songs keep coming. Written by Graeme Huggan <hia95gh@sheffield.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Hey, it's a '70s thing! [Video Title] See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

22 October 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Car Wash - Der ausgeflippte Waschsalon See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie was selected for the Palme D'Or competition at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival. It won two awards at Cannes that year, the Technical Grand Prize (Michael Schultz) and Best Music (Norman Whitfield). See more »

Quotes

Arresting Cop: Do you own a white Cadillac with the California license plate YNL-H77?
Slide: I sure do.
Arresting Cop: Well, your under arrest! Turn around! You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right...
Slide: [as he is being handcuffed] For what, man?
Arresting Cop: You have over 37 parking violations that you haven't paid!
Slide: Oh, no! Man, I gave my sister a lot of money this morning to pay it off.
Mr. B: Look, is there any other way we can straighten this out, officer?
Arresting Cop: [to Mr. B] Afraid not. Stand back, please. We have a warrant for his ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The list of all the main actors and actresses in alphabetic order scroll up at the film's beginning, followed by the film's title. See more »

Alternate Versions

The TV network version has all of the raunchy scenes, including the ones with the drag queen Lindy, cut and many more added which include:
  • Hippo first arriving at the car wash and parking his moped in the back lot where he meets Chuco, the Latino worker, getting off a flatboard truck that he is riding in with other Latinos going to work and they whistle at two women passing by.
  • The first scene with Slide ariving and parking his blue Cadillac down the streen, saying "Hi" to T.C. combing his huge afro hairstyle in front of a store window, and putting an LAPD Out of Order cover on the parking meter rather than paying for it. (This explains Slide's arrest later in the movie for 37 parking tickets.)
  • The first scene in the locker room has Lonnie, Hippo and Chuco getting into their work clothes while listing to the radio about a bombing by the Mad Pop Bottle Bomber, and Charlie walks in coughing and Hippo comments on Charlie's cough.
  • Snapper arriving for work and meeting Earl a.k.a.: Mr. Clean getting out his car and removing a polisher from the trunk.
  • A scene at Big Joe's Dog House next door to the car wash with Joe (Danny DeVito) arguing with Terry (Brooke Adams) about her looking at another guy while parked at a stoplight on their way to work.
  • Another scene at Big Joe's with Joe aruguing with Terry about the work they do while planing breakfast for the first customers.
  • The montage of washing cars has some scenes with Marsha putting on more makeup and hairspray in place of the shots of Irwin smoking pot in the mens room and Goody walking in on him.
  • The scene where Earl talks to the Oldsmobile owner is extended with Earl offering to polish the man's car and offers $18.50 for the job which will last four hours, and the car owner finally agrees.
  • A scene where Irwin sees a plate danish pastries and takes one which his father Mr. B, tense and worried about everything, takes it away and chases him away. While Mr. B is talking to Marsha about an obituarry of a friend dying, Irwin returns and takes the entire plate of danish away to the pinball room to eat them.
  • A shot of the hooker in the ladies room looking at her self in another fashion with a brunette wig, she decides she does not like it and begins changing into another fashion.
  • A scene at Big Joe's where Terry is talking to two policemen about her and Joe seeing the movie "Carrie" the other night, the mailman Barney arriving with Joe's mail, and Joe telling the policemen that the coffee they are drinking is 70 cents with their dounuts. One cop balks saying that Terry gives them coffee for free. Terry is somewhat embarrased and Joe angrilly sweezes a jelly dounut so hard that the jelly splurts out.
  • More dialouge between the Hysterical Woman outside the ladies room while Scruggs gets her ill son a bucket for him to throw up in.
  • While Marsha is chating with Lindy outside the ladies room, Terry is handling a customer, and Joe delivers Mr. B's lunch where he asks Joe if the meat is lean.
  • The first scene of the litharo Kenny is at Big Joe's where he pays Terry for his coffee and kisses her hand much to her shock, Joe sees this and angrilly storms out of the place with Terry following after him. (They are seen in the background by Marsha as she eyes Kenny aproaching her.)
  • Terry arriving back at the hamburger stand in tears where she is comforted by Maureen the hooker who tells her about her troubles with a man named Joe too.
  • A scene which comes after T.C. pushes Terry away from the phone booth for him to call and win the radio contest, Terry enters the phone booth after T.C. leaves and calls her mother and asks if Joe is there with her.
  • A scene where Terry is closing down Big Joe's for the day, Joe returns and as Maureen the hooker watches, he and Terry kiss and make up.
  • Marsha's storyline ends on a more downbeat note as while waiting for Kenny to pick her up, she says goodbye to Chuco as he board the same flatboard truck with the other Latino workers heading for home, Kenny arrives with his date, a more attractive woman, as well his obnoxious friend Benny as Marsha's date. Marsha is crushed but has no choice but to accompany them for their evening out.
  • More dialogue between Justin and Snapper, his grandfather, while they are waiting for the bus where Loretta arrives and Justin says hi to her before going back to Snapper and tells him that he's going to get a ride with her.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Celluloid Closet (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Richard Pryor Dialogue
Background music written by Norman Whitfield
Background voice by Gwen Dickey
Monologue by Richard Pryor
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A wonderful document of the 70's
27 December 1999 | by EdgarSTSee all my reviews

It is possible that in a hundred years a film like 'Car Wash' will have lost part of its comic effect, but of one thing we can be sure: because of its value as a document of an era, it will aspire to the term of 'classic' more than futile but pretty recreations of the past, such as 'Barry Lyndon' and the Ivory-Merchant productions, all of which may be more efficient technically-wise, but are all lacking a heart. 'Car Wash' is a collective and populist film about the spirit of community. It is also a motion picture with a few symbols thrown in, probably unconsciously. Since their creation, cars have always been a symbol of status: you are what you drive. The happy-go-lucky car washers offer a 'de luxe' service for all: they give the business a 'special touch' with their multi-racial hands --not only Negroes, but also Chicanos and native Americans--, through another symbol: water, the classic icon of purification and universal conscience. Surrounded by a group of very well defined characters (especially, since they are drawn by single strokes, or have very little screen time to develop psychological traits: they are characterized by their actions), three persons stand out: Mr. B (capital), Abdullah (revolution) and Lonnie (kindness.) The greed and neglect of the lustful and amiable car wash owner is contrasted with the anger and resentment of the dry and humorless political activist. In the middle comes the ex convict, who ultimately will settle things around the film's central issue: work. We cannot forget most of the issues referred to in the film in a casual way, as we normally do in daily life, and related to the multiple characters: love, religion, prostitution, parenthood, homosexuality, social climbing, class rejection, money, class struggle, sex, and above all, music, which is the unifying element. Norman Whitfield did such a good job, that he not only established the rhythm of the action, but its atmosphere, tone and feel. It generates such positive energy, that in the end all of the virtues that appear combined with the vices of the fast, consumerist and violent urban life, as well as the suffering of some of the characters, come to the fore: love, compassion, tolerance, patience, solidarity, friendship, happiness. That makes 'Car Wash' a joyful and universal parable of survival in the latter days of capitalism. And that is not an easy achievement for a little film, directed by an African-American and aimed at a very reduced population.


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