Richard Pryor
Live on the Sunset Strip

USA 1982, 82 mins
Director: Joe Layton

In his return to the stage after a highly publicised, drugged-fuelled accident, Pryor somehow outdoes himself, oscillating between some of his best-loved riffs and characters and a confessional mode as he lays bare many of his demons, from his relationships with women to his struggle with addiction.

Contemporary review
Richard Pryor, fully recovered from last year’s serious accident, is filmed in two stand-up comic performances at the Hollywood Palladium, Los Angeles.

Pryor may have returned from his near-fatal accident somewhat mellowed, but aficionados of Richard Pryor Live in Concert should not be let down by his latest batch of comic routines. His new-found ‘wisdom’, characterised by the excision from his vocabulary of the word ‘nigger’ and the clearly influential experience of a visit to Africa (‘Where we all come from, man’), conceivably sets a new tone. But the wit is as sharp as ever, and there is no sense of this supremely accomplished social/sexual satirist having gone soft. Indeed, the finer points of his acting (recreating a youthful encounter with the Mafia in which he uses the microphone stand as his imaginary persona, mimicking the behaviour of cheetahs and gazelles in an African game park) are quintessential demonstrations of the power of body language to amuse. Pryor could be as entertaining as any mime artist if that alone were the extent of his repertoire. But when he overlays such antics with his unique scatological monologues, the result can leave audiences (and reviewers) helpless with laughter.

Attempting, in the face of this attack, to essay some critical assessment of the roles of director Joe Layton and cameraman Haskell Wexler is not easy, but the cinematography is never less than adequate and the cutting is precise enough to elide two different performances without losing their sly postscripts. What matters, however, is the act itself, with all its verbal detours and physical illustration to which no written account could do justice. Suffice to say that the funniest routines are probably the Mafia story, the animal observations, and a frank discussion of his narcotics addiction (which led to his inadvertently setting fire to himself and suffering severe burns). At the close of the performance, he takes a match from a member of the audience, strikes it and asks, ‘What’s that?’ – ‘Richard Pryor running down the street’ he replies to his own question, and adds, ‘I know all that shit you been saying about me while I was away’. But Pryor is back, triumphantly, in his place as the most socially astute, sex-conscious, blasphemous and sublime solo act in show-business.
Martyn Auty, Monthly Film Bulletin, August 1982

Director: Joe Layton
Production Company: Rastar Productions
Presented by: Columbia Pictures Corporation
Producer: Richard Pryor
Unit Production Manager: Jerry A. Baerwitz
Production Co-ordinator: Michele Kuhar
Assistant Directors: Donald Yorkshire, L. Lewis Stout, David Grossman, Daniel Jason Heffner, Wendy Yorkshire
Written by: Richard Pryor
Photography: Haskell Wexler
Camera Operators: Dick Colean, Margo Miller, Paul Pollard, Chris Schwiebert, Joseph D. Steuben, Bob Thomas, John Toll, Steve Yaconelli
Video Playback: Cogswell Video Services
Editor: Sheldon Kahn
Production Designer: Michael Baugh
Set Designer: Virginia L. Randolph
Costumes: Danielle Peredez
Wardrobe Supervisor: Elizabeth Pine
Make-up Consultant: Guy Astier
Make-up Artists: Sirlord Donl Morse, Harry Thomas
Opticals: Pacific Title
Main title music: Harry Betts
Sound Recording: Biff Dawes, Bud Maffett, Lee Strosnider
Sound Re-recording: Les Fresholtz, Arthur Piantadosi, Dick Alexander
Sound Editors: Jeff Bushelman, Pat Somerset, Burbank Editorial and Sound Service
Creative Consultant: Paul Mooney

Richard Pryor

USA 1982
82 mins

Richard Pryor: Live in Concert
Wed 1 Sep 20:50; Fri 1 Oct 18:00
Some Call It Loving
Thu 2 Sep 20:40; Mon 20 Sep 18:00 (+ pre-recorded intro)
Lady Sings the Blues
Sat 4 Sep 11:30; Wed 15 Sep 13:50; Mon 27 Sep 20:20
The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings
Sat 4 Sep 20:30; Sat 25 Sep 14:45
Blue Collar
Mon 6 Sep 14:30; Fri 17 Sep 20:40 (+ pre-recorded intro); Tue 5 Oct 17:35
Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling
Tue 7 Sep 18:10 (+ pre-recorded intro); Mon 4 Oct 20:45
African Odysseys Presents: The Black History of Comedy
Fri 10 Sep 18:15
Fri 10 Sep 21:00; Tue 14 Sep 18:00; Sat 18 Sep 20:10
Car Wash
Sat 11 Sep 17:50; Tue 28 Sep 20:50
Blazing Saddles
Sat 11 Sep 20:45; Wed 22 Sep 18:15
Silver Streak
Sun 12 Sep 15:15; Wed 29 Sep 20:45
Which Way Is Up?
Wed 15 Sep 21:00; Sun 26 Sep 18:10
Lost Highway (unconfirmed)
Thu 16 Sep 17:30; Tue 5 Oct 20:30
Richard Pryor: A Comedy Genius
Thu 16 Sep 18:15
Stir Crazy
Sun 19 Sep 18:10; Fri 1 Oct 20:30
Bustin’ Loose
Mon 20 Sep 21:00; Sun 3 Oct 18:10
Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip
Tue 21 Sep 18:00 (+ discussion); Mon 4 Oct 18:20
Richard Pryor… Here and Now
Wed 22 Sep 20:45; Sat 2 Oct 18:00
Brewster’s Millions
Thu 23 Sep 20:45; Sun 3 Oct 15:15

A Pryor Engagement was originally programmed by Nellie Killian for BAMcinématek in 2013

This season is presented in partnership with We Are Parable

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Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
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