Filmmaker Shirley Clarke ("The Connection") directs this powerful, stark semi-documentary look at the horrors of Harlem ghetto slum life filled with drugs, violence, human misery, and a ... See full summary »


1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rony Clanton ...
Duke (as Hampton Clanton)
Carl Lee ...
Yolanda Rodríguez ...
Blood (as Clarence Williams)
Gary Bolling ...
Bostic Felton ...
Mrs. Custis
John Marriott ...
Georgia Burke ...
Marilyn Cox ...
Miss Dewpoint
Jerome Raphael ...
Mr. Shapiro
Joe Dennis ...
Douglas Thurston (as Joseph Dennis)
Ronald Perry ...
Bruce Edwards ...


Filmmaker Shirley Clarke ("The Connection") directs this powerful, stark semi-documentary look at the horrors of Harlem ghetto slum life filled with drugs, violence, human misery, and a sense of despair due to the racial prejudices of American society. There is no patronizing of the black race in this cinematic cry for justice. A fifteen-year-old boy called Duke is ambitious to buy a "piece" (a gun) from an adult racketeer named Priest, to become president of the gang to which he belongs, and to return them to active "bopping" (gang fighting) which has declined in Harlem. It is a clearly patent allegory of an attempt by Duke to attain manhood and identity in the only way accessible to him - the antisocial one. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


HOOKER! FUZZ! JUNK! RUMBLE! These are words that mean big trouble in... See more »


Crime | Drama





Release Date:

27 February 1965 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Die lässige Welt  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1994. See more »

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User Reviews

The Cool Word is a Ground Breaking Film
24 December 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Cool World is the first film about Harlem that was actually shot in Harlem. Hanging the camera from the ceiling provides a very personal experience for the viewer. The viewer is there as a participant, not as a spectator.

The Cool World is a very much not a Hollywood looking film with fast moving, up close, scenes. Dark yellow hued interior scenes capture the true feeling of the dwellings of the gang members. Shirley Clarke has taken us into The Cool World.

Little known trivia, is that Wally Cox's wife acted in this film. Another little known piece of trivia is that, since she lived in the Chelsea Hotel during the time that Sid Vicious also lived there, Shirley Clarke was a consultant on the film Sid and Nancy.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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