The Cool World 1964

The Cool World

Critics Consensus

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83%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 12

50%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 181
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Movie Info

When Duke (Hampton Clanton), a 15-year-old member of the gang Royal Pythons, decides he needs a gun to survive on the streets of Harlem, he visits a local thug named Priest (Carl Lee). Utilizing first-time actors and true-life ghettos for scenery, Shirley Clarke's devastating semi-documentary dramatizes the life of young gang bangers in 1960s Harlem and transcends its narrative to deliver a vivid picture of inner city life. Based on the novel by Warren Miller.

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Critic Reviews for The Cool World

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (10) | Rotten (2)

  • Clarke's images endow the characters' energies with a sculptural grandeur and embrace street life with a keenly attentive, unsentimental avidity.

    November 20, 2017 | Full Review…
  • The only thing that could make this world cooler would be a gun, and in the boy's quest to acquire one from a local hustler, Clarke shows a needy child maturing into a hardened criminal.

    March 17, 2016 | Full Review…
  • As we've come to expect of Miss Clarke's pictures, it is boldly and studiously styled as a literal documentation of a particular social scene, and its attack is more that of the reporter than of the interested teller of a tale.

    March 27, 2012 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Often crudely photographed, but with a brilliantly multi-layered sound-track which integrates some fine jazz.

    March 27, 2012 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • It certainly had a visceral impact when it first appeared, helped enormously by Baird Bryant's cinematography and Dizzy Gillespie's score.

    March 27, 2012 | Full Review…
  • Sometimes the characters get a bit lost in the general schematics of the pic, which at times waters down its underlying irony. But, overall, Clarke has a firm hold on her characters and story.

    February 23, 2012 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Cool World

  • Sep 14, 2012
    a semi-documentary made by shirley clarke, recognized as one of the leading independent film makers of the early 60s new american cinema. starring real harlem youth and gang members, the film explores the ghetto slum life of drugs and violence without the heavy moralizing of most hollywood films of the period. brilliant editing and killer jazz score by the dizzy gillespie quintet
    Stella D Super Reviewer

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