Ophelia: “Why don’t you wake up and realize that dreams ain’t for people like us?”
Many people hated this film. Vulgar. Too busy. Tired jokes. Racist humor. Asian and Hispanic stereotypes. The reggae man. Homophobia. Chauvinism. But the races, men and women all work together for the success of the company.
This movie isn’t about wealthy, successful, brilliant, heroic archetypes. It’s about the sad forgotten working poor who get overlooked at both ends of the spectrum. Crooked politicians and political hacks, crooked cops. The certifiably insane Dell “I don’t work on January the 8th because that’s Elvis’ birthday”, the childlike bodybuilder brothers, the faux Latin lover, the idealistic wannabe Writer…
”D.C. is a capital city.”
The reason why it is a cult film 🎞 for D.C. citizens is because it’s about regular working class people and not about political bigwigs or super spies. The D.C. Cab Company is a metaphor for the District itself. If D.C. Cab can make a comeback, can the Capital City come back as well?
”The big fear is that you’re becoming a cabdriver.”
But the critics missed the point of the film. It’s a story about what’s quintessentially right with America and Americans.
D.C. Our Nation’s Capitol, a long-ignored burnt out shell since the riots of the 60’s and 70’s, was about to make a huge comeback.
The Old South was disappearing and it was the dawn of the 80’s. An era without segregation, without riots, without Vietnam. No-one knew what was coming.
“No Tyrone, I’m from the new South where we’re all brothers.”
The real movie is about a group of white southerners, Harold, Albert and Dell. Harold runs a failing Cab Company with a largely black staff of employees. They all work together, live together and laugh together with a goal of saving the company and with no racial, ethnic or gender barriers between them.
They adopt young Albert, who finds his way up from Georgia to work for his dad’s War buddy, Harold. Albert’s dad apparently died from some ailment related to his service in Vietnam so he seeks to bond with one his dad’s best friends. Probably the most poignant scene is when the two of them roak the Schmiee and dance to Jimmy Cliff’s haunting reggae ballad ‘Vietnam’.
”Albert aint got not political convictions, He’s an American!”
On race relations, Dell very crudely explains to young Albert that blacks will eventually take over the country, so by coming to D.C. he’s getting ahead of the game and they can be the token whites in the new black utopia.
Albert learns a little bit from each driver, gaining their unique and often warped view of the world, but it’s the lens through which they see the universe.
There are a lot of silly tropes in the movie but amazingly, the most criticized happens more often than not. A rare violin gets left in a cab for which there is a $10,000 reward. This actually happened in both New England and in New York City and the violins involved were worth over One Million dollars.
“You ain’t got no company, You’ve got an asylum.” Says Ophelia. Ophelia is a strong female character who is wanted by both cab companies as a star driver.
The rival Emerald Cab Company is as slick as it is dirty. They have brand new shiny cabs and they pay off the authorities.
Myrna, Harold’s miserable mercenary wife doesn’t really believe in the American work ethic or the American Dream. She wants something for nothing and she tries to tear down the dream for everyone else. The cabbies think their dreams are dashed when Myrna steals the money.
Albert talks to them about their dreams. He puts his money where his mouth is and he puts up the savings his father left him. “We just might make something of ourselves!”
The cabbies fix up their cabs and they don the coveted jackets. They are armed with a new purpose, but obstacles, evildoers, bad luck and competitors still lie ahead.
Tyrone and Samson are both struggling, but Samson believes he can change the evil in his community if fights for what he believes, but Tyrone is fatalistic about what he sees as a hopelessly rigged racist society so he tries to game the system.
Albert and Tyrone fundamentally don’t understand each other and they don’t like each other at first. Tyrone loves Albert and hates him at the same time. But just as with Samson, Tyrone is no idealist. Tyrone at some level tries to get Albert to reject his false ‘New South’ idealism and truly understand the world as Tyrone sees it, by becoming a ‘psychic blood brother’.
Tyrone leaves the fold, but inspired by Irene Cara, he steals Dell’s cab to get the fare. Irene Cara’s song ‘Dream’ was a huge hit.
Mixed in with the vulgar comedy is a sad story about throwaway people who still cling to the American Dream, but somehow if they put aside their differences and come together with a common goal they can still find a way to achieve that dream.
In the end it’s the wisdom out of the mouth of babes as young Albert inspires the crew to believe.
They have to come together one more time and figure out the clues to rescue the kidnapped kids and Albert. Airplanes ✈️? Bruce Lee 🥋 ? A windmill?
Albert is framed for a crime he didn’t commit. The crew has to work to save him and they will stop at nothing to do it.
Can Crazy Mr. Rhythm help?
I wont spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it.
D.C. Cab 🚕 Joel Schumacher and Topper Carew RKO Uinversal 1981
Starring Mr. T., Adam Baldwin, Charlie Barnett, the Barbarians, Marsha Warfield, Whitman Mayo, Paul Rodriguez, DeWayne Jessie, Bill Maher and many others.