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Car Wash

By Paula Nechak

Richard Pryor's face is plastered all over the cover of Car Wash, but don't be fooled. This slight comedy, made in 1976, is an ensemble piece much like Robert Altman's or Alan Rudolph's all-star movies in that there are a lot of familiar faces who have relatively little screen time or business to attend to. Set in smoggy Los Angeles, the film opens with a radio announcer's voiceover, "Hey, hey, L.A. It's a brand new day." And the camera pans the street, zooming in on the Dee-Luxe Car Wash, which is owned by the ultimate cheapskate, Mr. B (Sully Boyar). In rapid succession, we're introduced to a dizzying array of characters who all work or hang out at the car wash: drag queen Lindy (Antonio Fargas), brothers Floyd and Lloyd who want to be in show business, a hip brother, an angry brother, a taxi driver (George Carlin), cashier Marsha (Melanie Mayron), and a plethora of "types" who wash, dry, and polish everything in sight while making time to make time. Car Wash doesn't do much or have a lot to say, the laughs aren't particularly original, and the actors don't have much to do save for Fargas, whose role as a drag queen was groundbreaking because the character wasn't discriminated against or killed at the end. Even Richard Pryor is wasted in his single scene as a wealthy preacher named Daddy Rich. Car Wash, which was written by mainstream director Joel Schumacher (Batman and Robin, Falling Down, The Client), is ultimately uneventful. Its revival on DVD is puzzling because it looks about as faded, dated, and undistinguished as a rusty old car.

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Your Memories Shared!

"You wouldn't understand Car Wash if you're not Black. Let me clarify... I don't mean Black as in skin color, but Black as in Black culture. You wouldn't understand the jokes or the humor. Whoever wrote the review about Car Wash doesn't have a clue! [Editor's note: You're welcome - as an expert on "black culture" - to write a better review or to even explain one or two of the jokes you believe the rest of us had trouble "understanding."]"


"There was more talented player in this movie besides Richard Pryor. I really loved this movie. Did you know that Danny Devito is in the movie? He owned the lunch stand. This was a wonderful movie and a great soundtrack. Spike Lee needs to make a remake of it."

--Mrs. Martin

"Car Wash is my all-time favorite movie. Most of the characters are lovable and turn working at a car wash into a fun, groovy, danceable way of earning a living. Yes, some of the skits are a little corny, but, the feel-good 70s vibe you get from watching it makes you forget the troubles of the present day- even if for only 97 minutes."


"I love this movie! It took me a while before I found anything on the web on this movie. It is a defenite classic and I hope it'll be remembered that way."




Buy this VHS movie from! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from! (Click here!)Buy this soundtrack from! (Click here!)Rated PGNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Michael Schultz

Stars: Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Franklyn Ajaye

Released: October 22, 1976

Availability: DVD VHS CD

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