Car Wash (1976)

PG | 97 mins | Comedy | 3 September 1976

Director:

Michael Schultz

Writer:

Joel Schumacher

Cinematographer:

Frank Stanley

Production Designer:

Robert Clatworthy

Production Company:

Universal Pictures
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HISTORY

According to publicity materials found in AMPAS library files, producers Art Linson and Gary Stromberg initially conceived Car Wash as a musical comedy for the stage, hoping to repeat the success of Jesus Christ Superstar (1973, see entry) and Tommy (1975, see entry), that started as albums, became stage productions and then were made into a films. After two years, the producers met with Universal Pictures executive vice president Ned Tanen and decided make it into only a film. Writer Joel Schumacher was signed to write the screenplay after Linson and Stromberg had seen his script for Sparkle (1976, see entry).
       A news item in the 19 Jan 1976 HR reported that writers Le Roy Robinson and Bernie Rollins had been hired to "complete" Schumacher’s screenplay for Car Wash, but neither Robinson nor Rollins appear in the onscreen credits.
       According to the 15 Jan 1976 Var, Car Wash marked Norman Whitfield’s theatrical film debut as a film composer. He was already an accomplished music writer and producer with over 40 gold records.
       A 16 Jul 1975 DV news brief announced that principal photography was scheduled to begin in Dec 1975, but the 9 Jan 1976 LAHExam stated that director Michael Schultz was still auditioning actors at that time and the seven-week shooting schedule was set to begin on 1 Mar 1976 in Los Angeles, ... More Less

According to publicity materials found in AMPAS library files, producers Art Linson and Gary Stromberg initially conceived Car Wash as a musical comedy for the stage, hoping to repeat the success of Jesus Christ Superstar (1973, see entry) and Tommy (1975, see entry), that started as albums, became stage productions and then were made into a films. After two years, the producers met with Universal Pictures executive vice president Ned Tanen and decided make it into only a film. Writer Joel Schumacher was signed to write the screenplay after Linson and Stromberg had seen his script for Sparkle (1976, see entry).
       A news item in the 19 Jan 1976 HR reported that writers Le Roy Robinson and Bernie Rollins had been hired to "complete" Schumacher’s screenplay for Car Wash, but neither Robinson nor Rollins appear in the onscreen credits.
       According to the 15 Jan 1976 Var, Car Wash marked Norman Whitfield’s theatrical film debut as a film composer. He was already an accomplished music writer and producer with over 40 gold records.
       A 16 Jul 1975 DV news brief announced that principal photography was scheduled to begin in Dec 1975, but the 9 Jan 1976 LAHExam stated that director Michael Schultz was still auditioning actors at that time and the seven-week shooting schedule was set to begin on 1 Mar 1976 in Los Angeles, CA. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
16 Jul 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jan 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Aug 1976
p. 3, 20.
LAHExam
9 Jan 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
29 Aug 1976
p. 48.
New York Times
16 Oct 1976
p. 13.
Variety
15 Jan 1976.
---
Variety
1 Sep 1976
p. 22.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
An Art Linson Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus comp and prod
Songs performed by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title des
Titles & opt eff
MAKEUP
Make-up
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
COLOR PERSONNEL
DETAILS
Release Date:
3 September 1976
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 3 September 1976
New York opening: 15 October 1976
Production Date:
began 1 March 1976 in Los Angeles, CA
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, LLLP
Copyright Date:
3 September 1976
Copyright Number:
LP46939
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
97
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24617
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On a July morning in 1976, a middle aged ex-convict, Lonnie, greets his fellow workers at the Dee-Lux Car Wash, including: Hippo, a large good natured man; Snapper, an old shoe shiner; Geronimo, a thin, African-American with feathers in his hair; Goody, a Native American who wears a hat with pig ears; T. C., who dons a three piece suit and an Afro; Chuco, an Hispanic Casanova; and Scruggs, a cowboy. The men change into their orange overalls as Earl, their uptight supervisor, orders them to work when Leon “Mr. ’B” Barrow, the owner of the car wash, drives up with his college-aged son, Irwin, who spouts communist philosophy. Marsha, the busty cashier, opens the office. Meanwhile, a prostitute, Marleen, sneaks out of a cab to avoid paying the fare and hides in the car wash’s ladies room. Earl is furious when worker Duane strolls in late. The tall African American refuses to answer to his so-called slave name, “Duane,” and insists he be addressed as Abdulla Mohammed Akbar. As the men work, they dance to disco music, but the radio show is interrupted by a news bulletin announcing the threat of a “pop bottle bomber,” who fashions soda bottles into bombs and blows up small businesses. Meanwhile, Irwin, who just smoked a marijuana cigarette, informs his father, “Mr. B,” that he wants to join his “exploited brothers” washing cars, but Irwin slips, goes through the car wash, and gets a hot wax treatment. When the radio promises concert tickets to the first caller to correctly identify a song, T. C. rushes to the telephone booth, but he does not have a ... +


On a July morning in 1976, a middle aged ex-convict, Lonnie, greets his fellow workers at the Dee-Lux Car Wash, including: Hippo, a large good natured man; Snapper, an old shoe shiner; Geronimo, a thin, African-American with feathers in his hair; Goody, a Native American who wears a hat with pig ears; T. C., who dons a three piece suit and an Afro; Chuco, an Hispanic Casanova; and Scruggs, a cowboy. The men change into their orange overalls as Earl, their uptight supervisor, orders them to work when Leon “Mr. ’B” Barrow, the owner of the car wash, drives up with his college-aged son, Irwin, who spouts communist philosophy. Marsha, the busty cashier, opens the office. Meanwhile, a prostitute, Marleen, sneaks out of a cab to avoid paying the fare and hides in the car wash’s ladies room. Earl is furious when worker Duane strolls in late. The tall African American refuses to answer to his so-called slave name, “Duane,” and insists he be addressed as Abdulla Mohammed Akbar. As the men work, they dance to disco music, but the radio show is interrupted by a news bulletin announcing the threat of a “pop bottle bomber,” who fashions soda bottles into bombs and blows up small businesses. Meanwhile, Irwin, who just smoked a marijuana cigarette, informs his father, “Mr. B,” that he wants to join his “exploited brothers” washing cars, but Irwin slips, goes through the car wash, and gets a hot wax treatment. When the radio promises concert tickets to the first caller to correctly identify a song, T. C. rushes to the telephone booth, but he does not have a dime. As he screams in frustration, a Mercedes automobile arrives with a boy vomiting out the window. The mother tells Chuco to wash the car, as she drags the boy to the ladies’ room. She bangs on the locked door until Marleen comes out wearing a new wig. When the woman returns to her spotless Mercedes, she accuses Chuco of shoddy workmanship and withholds her 5¢ tip, but her son vomits all over her and the car’s interior as she leaves. Later, Reverend Daddy Rich and the sexy Wilson sisters arrive in a gold Cadillac. The workers swarm to hear the Reverend preach the gospel of prosperity. Later, when a Doberman Pinscher escapes from a vehicle, Scruggs catches the dog, but not before it excretes in the parking lot, and Earl orders Goody and Chuco to clean up the mess with a discarded donut box. Afterward, Chuco puts on Goody’s pig hat, sticks his face against a frosted window and oinks, scaring the cashier Marsha while she is using the ladies’ room. When Chuco returns Goody’s hat, Marsha mistakenly believes Goody is the culprit and slaps him, but Goody gets even with Chuco by putting hot chillis in Chuco’s sandwich. T. C. takes his lunch break at a café across the street and asks Mona, a waitress, for a date. She refuses, claiming she is through with men who have no future. Later, “Mr. B” propositions Marsha for sex and she tells him she has to check if she is free. Meanwhile, Hippo pays Marleen to have sex with him in the storage room. Back on the wash line, Irwin preaches communism to the workers, but Duane cuts the boy off, claiming that when the revolution comes, whites will be working for black men. Seeing a van parked across the street, Duane leaves to talk to the driver. When Duane returns, Lonnie warns him to stay away from the driver, who is a fellow ex-convict. As another news report about the “soda pop” bomber is broadcast over the radio, a man fitting the bomber’s description drives up, asks Hippo for his soda bottle, and disappears into the men’s bathroom. Hippo warns T. C. that the man will blow up the car wash. When the man comes out of the bathroom, T. C. grabs the bottle and runs away screaming. Another customer tackles T. C. and the bottle smashes onto the concrete, revealing a urine sample for the man’s liver test. Meanwhile, a handsome man arrives and asks Marsha for a date. She agrees, then tells “Mr. B” she cannot meet him later because she has to visit her sister. At the end if the day, “Mr. B” fires Duane. Lonnie prevents his friend from assaulting their boss. When Lonnie asks “Mr. B” to rehire Duane, and also for a raise, “Mr. B” claims he has no time to talk and Lonnie storms away, but “Mr. B” follows, promising to continue their conversation the next day. As the car wash closes, T. C. telephones the radio station, wins tickets for the concert and asks Mona to accompany him. She agrees to go to the concert. Earl leaves to discover the donut box of dog excrement on his car. Lonnie volunteers to close the office so Marsha can keep her date. As he counts the cash, Duane enters with a revolver, demanding the money, but Lonnie refuses, explaining that he will not allow Duane to go to prison for such a small sum. Duane is unable to shoot Lonnie and cries that he is unable to deal with life’s pressures. Lonnie embraces his friend and says they will figure out a solution together. Marleen watches the men leave as she waits for her next customer.
+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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