6.4/10
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Which Way Is Up? (1977)

Richard Pryor is playing three different roles here. The first being a poor orange picker named Leroy Jones who gets laid off when by mistake he joins the worker's union during one of their... See full summary »

Director:

Michael Schultz

Writers:

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

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 Diane Rodriguez ... Estrella Reyes
Dolph Sweet ... The Boss
Tim Thomerson ... Tour Guide (as Timothy Thomerson)
Daniel Valdez Daniel Valdez ... Chuy Estrada (as Danny Valdez)
Luis Valdez Luis Valdez ... Ramon Juarez
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Storyline

Richard Pryor is playing three different roles here. The first being a poor orange picker named Leroy Jones who gets laid off when by mistake he joins the worker's union during one of their demonstrations. Afterwards he is forced to leave his wife and family behind which also includes Leroy's father (also played by Pryor) to go to Los Angeles. Leroy ends up working for the same company that fired him back home. He is a manager at the company but he is now distant from his former pals. He meets and falls in love with Vanetta who is a labor organizer which leaves him splitting time between his wife Annie Mae and Vanetta. When Leroy finds out that the Reverend Lenox Thomas (also played by Pryor) has got his wife pregnant while he was absent, he then make the moves on the reverend's wife. Written by mts77

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 June 1978 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

A munka gyümölcse See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

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

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

At the beginning of the film Leroy (Richard Pryor) listens in on his father Rufus (also Richard Pryor) having sex in the other room. The sounds of his father and the woman, "Don't do that baby. Sock it to me. [moaning]", was sampled in 2 Live Crew's 1989 hit "Me So Horny" on the album "As Nasty As They Wanna Be". That song also features a sample from Full Metal Jacket (1987). See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Referenced in TruInside: The Jerk (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
the miseducation of Richard Pryor's audience
9 August 2010 | by lonflexxSee all my reviews

Based on "The Seduction of Mimi", this Americanized version of the script loses much in the translation. Significantly damaged are the cutting social satire and the tragic aspect. The original, dealing with radical Italian politics and labor issues, Italian concepts of family honor, traditional Italian gender roles and an intimidating pyramid of social corruption MIGHT have worked here IF the Hollywood scriptwriters knew how to superimpose a uniquely American template onto these themes and redrew the map to fit. Instead they used the original script verbatim and threw-out anything too idiomatic, replacing political irony with rather dumb 70s TV sitcom jokes.

This left Pryor in the unenviable position of having to shore-up this spineless farce. He's left pretty much on his own. As in too many Peter Sellers movies, he's given free reign to pad the scenes with comic improvisation. In front of an audience Pryor was a genius at this. The camera just doesn't pick it up here. Most of his valiant efforts fall flat. Both Margaret Avery and Marilyn Coleman give more finely tuned comedic performances.

Pryor may actually be miscast. The role of Leroy calls for a Chaplineque everyman caught in the middle of tyrannical forces over which he has no control and must constantly deny his ideals and desires in order to survive. The role calls for an idiot, but a sympathetic one, and Pryor isn't credible as a dope. When he attempts to look clueless, he looks like a hip wiseguy trying to look innocent. And that's really funny in the right situation. But here it works like a spice trying to taste bland.

Fortunately, Pryor would try his hand at this type of character in Blue Collar with far better results.

I'm certain most of the blame can be leveled on both the producer and director. Steve Krantz was okay with cartoons, but a total hack at producing live action films. He was probably hovering around impeding the camera-work and making sure there were no retakes. Michael Schultz never made much of his directorial career and is particularly stale in the comedy genre. After some early potential he quickly sold himself out as a Hollywood flunkie for square producers like Krantz.

Five stars for Pryor because anything he's in is worth a look, plus an extra star for Avery, Coleman and gratuitous sightings of Korla Pandit and Hank Worden.


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