14 user 18 critic

Which Way Is Up? (1977)

Richard Pryor plays three roles: Leroy Jones, a poor orange-picker who gets laid off for accidentally joining the workers' union during one of their demonstrations; Leroy's father, whom ... See full summary »


Michael Schultz


Lina Wertmüller (as Lina Wertmuller), Carl Gottlieb (screenplay) | 1 more credit »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Pryor ... Leroy Jones / Rufus Jones / Reverend Lenox Thomas
Lonette McKee ... Vanetta
Margaret Avery ... Annie Mae
Morgan Woodward ... Mr. Mann
Marilyn Coleman Marilyn Coleman ... Sister Sarah
Bebe Drake ... Thelma (as BeBe Drake-Hooks)
Gloria Edwards Gloria Edwards ... Janelle
Ernesto Hernández Ernesto Hernández ... Jose Reyes (as Ernesto Hernandez)
Otis Day ... Sugar
Morgan Roberts Morgan Roberts ... Henry
Diane Rodriguez ... Estrella Reyes
Dolph Sweet ... The Boss
Tim Thomerson ... Tour Guide (as Timothy Thomerson)
Daniel Valdez ... Chuy Estrada (as Danny Valdez)
Luis Valdez Luis Valdez ... Ramon Juarez


Richard Pryor plays three roles: Leroy Jones, a poor orange-picker who gets laid off for accidentally joining the workers' union during one of their demonstrations; Leroy's father, whom Leroy leaves behind with the rest of his family to go to Los Angeles; and Reverend Lenox Thomas, who gets Leroy's wife Annie Mae pregnant during Leroy's absence. In Los Angeles, Leroy ends up working for the same company that fired him back home; he is a manager at the company but is now distant from his former pals. Though married, he falls in love with labor organizer Vanetta and must divide his time between her and Annie Mae. When he discovers that Annie Mae is pregnant by Reverend Thomas, he puts the moves on Mrs. Thomas. Written by mts77

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The office tower's roof being painted, at Washington Square, 330 Washington Boulevard, Marina Del Rey, California, was later the exterior setting for the office of the Simon's for Simon & Simon (1981). See more »


Annie Mae: Leroy, can't you just whisper sweet things into my ear?
Leroy Jones: [into her ear] Open yo legs, bitch!
See more »


Featured in Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic (2013) See more »


Which Way Is Up?
Words and Music by Norman Whitfield
Sung by Stargard
See more »

User Reviews

Richard Pryor hilariously portrays three characters in Which Way Is Up?
14 February 2012 | by tavmSee all my reviews

It's been about 30 years since I almost watched the entirety of this movie (the only reason I couldn't was because I was 13 at the time and my mom wouldn't let me watch the rest when she caught me watching a sex scene!) so now that I have indeed done so on Netflix Streaming, I'm sooo glad I did! Richard Pryor must of had the time of his life making this movie with director Michael Schultz especially when-in the only time in his career-he portrayed three characters: Leading player Leroy Jones, his father Rufus, and reverend Lenox Thomas. The story deals with unions, promotions, adultery, sexual problems, and trying to find a balance of it all. Leroy has his hands full dealing with wife Margaret Avery as Annie Mae, Lonette McKee as social activist Vanetta, and Marilyn Coleman as Sister Sarah, wife of the reverend. Pryor's scenes with Ms. McKee are the most romantic, while his sequences with Ms. Avery and Ms. Coleman are the most comic. But they all have some poignancy about them that makes one care for them. Pryor himself is at his best with his takes on each character and the way Leroy changes his demeanor for whatever occasion. In other words, I found Which Way Is Up? quite hilarious so yeah, that's a high recommendation.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 14 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »






Release Date:

23 June 1978 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Which Way Is Up? See more »


Box Office


$3,200,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page

Recently Viewed