6.6/10
493
10 user 18 critic

The Cool World (1963)

A 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.

Director:

Shirley Clarke
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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rony Clanton Rony Clanton ... Duke (as Hampton Clanton)
Carl Lee Carl Lee ... Priest
Yolanda Rodríguez Yolanda Rodríguez ... Luanne
Clarence Williams III ... Blood (as Clarence Williams)
Gary Bolling Gary Bolling ... Littleman
Bostic Felton Bostic Felton ... Rod
Gloria Foster ... Mrs. Custis
John Marriott ... Hurst
Georgia Burke Georgia Burke ... Grandma
Marilyn Cox Marilyn Cox ... Miss Dewpoint
Jerome Raphael Jerome Raphael ... Mr. Shapiro
Mel Stewart ... Con-man
Joe Dennis Joe Dennis ... Douglas Thurston (as Joseph Dennis)
Ronald Perry Ronald Perry ... Savage
Bruce Edwards Bruce Edwards ... Warrior
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

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Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Gloria Foster. See more »

Connections

References The Secret of the Purple Reef (1960) See more »

User Reviews

Flawed but interesting.....
9 May 2012 | by CurtHerzstarkSee 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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

Zipporah Films

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 November 1964 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Cool World See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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