The Cool World

Critics Consensus

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90%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 10

50%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 181
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The Cool World Photos

Movie Info

No relation to the later Ralph Bakshi semi-animated feature of the same name, Cool World is set in the meanest sections of Harlem. Hampton Clayton plays Duke, a powerful street gang member who claims that he is motivated by the Black Muslim movement. His subsequent criminal activities are thus not merely for gain, but as a means to declare black supremacy over the white establishment. One of director Shirley Clarke's few mainstream projects, Cool World was the first commercial film venture to be shot on location in Harlem. The largely unknown cast features future luminaries (and husband and wife) Clarence Williams III and Gloria Foster.

Cast

Critic Reviews for The Cool World

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (9) | Rotten (1)

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

    Nov 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.

    Mar 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.

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

    Mar 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.

    Mar 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.

    Feb 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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