At 20th Century Flicks
"They pit the lifers against the new boy and the young against the old. The black against the white. Everything they do is to keep us in our place." Yaphet Kotto as Smokey (Blue Collar)
Yaphet Kotto passed away in March of 2021 at the age of 81, leaving behind him an incredible acting legacy and impressive body of work that spanned six decades of stage and screen. Whether it’s Dr Kananga aka Mr Big in Live and Let Die (1973), Parker in Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) or as Jocko his first major role in Michael Roemer’s Nothing But A Man (1964), which was also considered to be Malcolm X’s favourite film, Kotto would bring a certain kind of gravitas and complexity to every role, busting pre-existing stereotypes wide-open on the big screen.
A stand-out example that embodies that very singular and exceptional gravitas and complexity in performance is that of Smokey James In Blue Collar (1978), completing a live-wire triple threat alongside Richard Pryor and Harvey Keitel, infamously, both on and off camera during the films production.
Blue Collar is the uncompromising tale of three-workingmen set against the raw and gritty backdrop of the Detroit Motor Car Industry who plan a heist on the corrupt Union that’s meant to protect them.