The Cool World (1963)

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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 »


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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  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Film debut of Gloria Foster. See more »

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User Reviews

Flawed but interesting.....
9 May 2012 | by (Sweden) – See all my reviews

Shirley Clarke is one of those filmmakers I've heard about but I never seen any of her films, until now.

In New York at this time Cassavetes and many other filmmakers were doing films outside of the Hollywood system and tried to tell a different kind of film.

Shirley Clarke was definitely a part of this filmmovement using and deploying the same kind of style, tone and content.

This socialrealistic, gritty, dramadocumentary about street life in Harlem in 60's seen from a very young African American male by the name of Duke who joins a gang called the Pythons and starts waging a war against a rival gang called the Wolfs, is interesting albeit very flawed film experience.

At times this film is reminiscent of Cassavetes but being a very flawed film, the use of stock footage, voice-over, improvisational acting, etc means that Clarke sometimes ends up being a protegé to b-moviemaker Doris Wishman.

It may seem odd that I'm comparing the two but at times these two filmmakers seem to have a lot in common.

At best this film comes across as very dark, realistic portrayal of inner city youth crime in 60's. The film doesn't shy away from drugabuse, prostitution, interracial relationships etc.

Strangely, this film hasn't been released on DVD nor have Criterion, Masters of cinema etc released her films in a DVD box.

Shirley Clarke should get that treatment, she deserves it. And this film should be seen by more people interested in early American independent cinema.

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