In 1964, a group of high school friends who live on the Near North Side of Chicago enjoy life to the fullest...parties, hanging out, meeting new friends. Then life changes for two of the ...
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Car Wash is about a close-knit group of employees who one day have all manner of strange visitors coming onto their forecourt, including Richard Pryor as a preaching 'wonder-man' who is ... See full summary »
Richard Pryor is playing three different roles here. The first being a poor orange picker named Leroy Jones who gets laid off when by mistake he joins the worker's union during one of their... See full summary »
Goldie returns from five years at the state pen and winds up king of the pimping game. Trouble comes in the form of two corrupt white cops and a crime lord who wants him to return to the ... See full summary »
In contrast to most of the violence-laden "blaxploitation" films of the period, this low-budget effort eschews exploitation for humanity and domestic drama. Leonard Jackson plays a barber ... See full summary »
Dave Anderson and Manny Durrell are two high-class sneak thieves who have never been caught. Joshua Burke is a retired detective who has enough evidence on the both of them to put them ... See full summary »
James Earl Jones
In 1964, a group of high school friends who live on the Near North Side of Chicago enjoy life to the fullest...parties, hanging out, meeting new friends. Then life changes for two of the guys when they meet a pair of career criminals and get falsely arrested in connection with stealing a Cadillac. We follow their lives through the end of high school and the dramatic end to their school year. Written by
Preaches' Mama, like many other actors in the movie, was a real-life resident of the Cabrini-Green housing project. See more »
In the party scene where Preach talks to Brenda, it is clearly visible that the door opens from the outside. But when Cochise throws Damon into that same door and breaks it, the door falls through. If the door opens from the outside, then there would be no way the door could fall. See more »
We were friends, a long time ago. Laughin, rappin, chasin girls, obeying no laws, except the law of caring. Basketball days and high nights, no tomorrows, unable to remember yesterday. We live for today...
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The ending of the movie tells the futures of the fictional characters. See more »
This movie seems to always be compared to "American Graffiti" and, given that both end in a similar "Where are they now?" montage, feature a high level of period pop music and are generally show teenagers running around, having fun and encountering mishaps, it's fair to say that to some extent the film was intended as a black "American Graffiti". "American Graffiti" was an iconic and hugely popular phenomenon, and given that the title has 'American' in it but it essentially a story of only the white American experience, once can see how blacks might have desired a movie that could capture their own experiences during those magic moments as youth comes to an end.
"Cooley High" is also something of an answer to its white counterpart, though: simply by showing a typical black teenager experience in 1962 it is going to have to make some kind of social commentary. In "American Graffiti" the high crimes are drag racing and minors buying booze, while we see decidedly rougher characters in "Cooley High". The only two who stand out as three-dimensional are the leads, Cochise and Preach, but they have more depth than any of the characters in "Graffiti". Unfortunately, the other characters in the movie fall flat and you'll be very lucky if, after your first viewing, you remember the names of even half of them before they flash on the screen in the final sequence.
Cochise is the smart and college-bound student whose best friend Preach, despite being no less intelligent, seems to be destined to fail. Much of the movie is devoted to their high-spirited teenage adventures, in the spirit of "Graffiti", and the movie is entertaining enough as the gang skips school to go the zoo, crashes a party, inadvertently starts a brawl in a movie theater, and so on. Things pick up, though, and the final minutes of the film how the consequences of their fun in the first hour.
This movie is interesting and I'm glad it was made as a black counterpoint to "American Graffiti". However, the characters aren't quite as memorable in "Coolie High", and the stories just aren't as clever and fun either. This isn't to say "Coolie High" fails, it's just that "American Graffiti" had some pretty brilliant stories which it would be hard for any movie to equal. One exception is the romantic scene between Preach and Brenda which, although comic in nature, utterly transcends any racial boundaries and is a wonderfully honest depiction of the inherent awkwardness of the situation, something the audience can relate to far more honestly than the typical confident and lustful love scenes we usually see in movies.
The movie is uneven and, to this reviewer, can't quite reach the highs of the movie it is providing a counterpoint to. Still, I can very much relate to "American Graffiti" but what do I know about growing up in Cabrini Green? Some viewers might love this far more than "American Graffiti". This movie seems pretty forgotten, but it shouldn't be.
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