|THE COOL WORLD
(director/writer: Shirley Clarke;
screenwriters: Carl Lee/from the play by Robert
Rossen & Warren Miller/from the novel Warren Miller;
cinematographer: Baird Bryant; editor: Shirley
Clarke; music: Mal Waldron;
cast: Carl Lee (The Priest), Hampton Clanton
(Duke), Yolanda Rodriguez (Luanee), Clarence Williams III
(Blood), Marilyn Cox (Miss
Dewpoint), Georgia Burke (Grandma), Gloria
(Mrs. Custis); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Frederick Wiseman; Wiseman Films; 1963)
|"An eye-opening film that captures
ghetto life back in the 1960s."
by Dennis Schwartz
Cool World as in the world of Harlem is a gripping
accessible mainstream semi-documentary film shot in
b/w and on location in Harlem by the white Jewish
well-educated writer-director Shirley Clarke ("The
Connection"/"Portrait of Jason"/"Ornette:
Made in America").
It bogs down at times when caught in its schematic
agenda. But when allowed to have a natural flow, its
lively cast of mostly non-professionals, make this an
eye-opening film that timelessly captures ghetto life
back in the 1960s --its jazz background score by
Dizzy Gillespie still registers even in today's
hip-hop world. The film could be a sociologist's study
as it explores ghetto violence, poverty, drug use,
entrapment in slum life and racism.
based on the play by Robert Rossen &
Warren Miller, which was based on the novel by Warren
Miller. Carl Lee, a principal actor
in the film. co-writes the script. However the script
is the film's weak point. What makes up for that is
its powerful visceral effects from its location shots
and its very fine character-based part of the story.
Hampton Clayton plays an ambitious 14-year-old given a gun by Carl Lee, a racketeer, and with that the kid becomes the leader of a Harlem street gang. Through some bad experiences Hampton later discovers that a life of crime and hatred doesn't pay, which sounds trite but seems better on film.
REVIEWED ON 9/10/2015 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ