Back Seat Producers Season 07 Shows

BSP Episode 238: Car Wash

Release date:  10/22/1976

Universal Pictures

Directed by

  • Michael Schultz

Produced by

  • Art Lindstrom
  • Gary Stromberg

Written by

  • Joel Schumacher



  • Ivan Dixon


  • Antonio Fargas


  • Franklin Ajaye


  • Bill Duke

Daddy Rich

  • Richard Pryor

The hosts review:

Darrell found it kind of rough to watch a 35 year old film with no plot and a very thin story line because you’re waiting for something to happen… and it never really does.  Tony describes it as a ghetto slice of life movie, set in a car wash, with no over arcing plot.  It’s just a day in the life of guys who work in a car wash, although there are some very interesting characters who he would have liked to have had more of a story.  It’s basically a character study loosely strung together, which Darrell found to be the movie’s downfall.  Tony #2 brought up that, during the 1970s, there were quite a few films that experimented with character study as a structure.

They liked the character of Lindy, a flamboyantly gay man.  What they also liked was that their coworkers were supportive and, when Lindy was hassled, defended him, as well.

While Darrell thought it came close to being a Blaxploitation movie, Tony and Tony #2 disagreed and thought it was very much the opposite.  They go into a brief listing of Blaxploitation films… then drift back to Car Wash.  The only scene in the film that possibly came close to being a “stereotype” is the scene where the employees were dancing and singing while washing cars.  Tony thought that Kevin Smith borrowed heavily from this structure in making Clerks… slice of life study and people whose only common thread is working together.

They talked about Richard Pryor being one of the top-billed actors in the movie, although he was in only one scene.  One of Tony’s most memorable “one of” scenes in the movie was the Beverly Hills woman who comes to the car wash with her son with an upset stomach.  Her main concern is that the employees clean up her son’s vomit from the car, and NOT that fact that her son is sick.  When she drives away, her son projectile vomits all over the inside of her car and her.

The hosts discuss the more tragic story lines in the film.  T.C., who spend the entire movie trying to win concert tickets for a girl that he likes, but this girl barely gives him the time of day.  Lonnie, who works in an almost supervisory role, but doesn’t have the title or the pay that goes with it.  He’s also struggling to be a good father while dealing with a parole office that keeps popping in to check up on him.  Duane/Abdullah, the “angry young man,” knows most of the employees are slackers and he wants more for himself.  These also provided some of the serious moments in the midst of the comedy.

They note that the movie didn’t really become cohesive until the end when the different story lines came to a close, specifically the scene in which Lonnie is closing the car wash and Abdullah (after being fired) returns to the car wash with a gun.

They were also a little disappointed in George Carlin’s cab driver character.  They wished it was more like George Carlin – he wasn’t an intelligent character, he was a goofball character.  Carlin also had a high billing on the movie and wasn’t in it all that much.

Darrell brought up that there was a number of well-known actors whose scenes ended up on the cutting room floor; Brook Adams and Danny DeVito, to name a few

Darrell mentions that Car Wash was Ivan Dixon’s last movie role, and they briefly mention his long list as a Director.

Tony brings up Richard Pryor’s quote about his role in Car Wash: “On the set of ‘Car Wash’ I was too coked out to know any better.”

Trivial bits ‘n pieces:

This was Ivan Dixon’s last movie acting role and Bill Duke’s first movie acting role, who also became a Director in later years.

The name of the Los Angeles car wash used to film the movie was the Figueroa Car Wash, near MacArthur Park.

The movie’s title song was a #1 hit and was also one of the biggest selling singles of  the 1970s disco era.

Your Producers for this episode were:

  • Tony
  • Darrell
  • Tony (say what?) It’s the return of Tony #2!

This episode was recorded: 8/8/2012

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