The Cool World
The Cool World (1964)

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… More

Directed By:
Rated: Unrated
Running Time:
Genre: Drama
Release Date: April 20, 1964
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Critic Score: 100% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews
Richard Brody
New Yorker

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

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Time Out

Often crudely photographed, but with a brilliantly multi-layered sound-track which integrates some fine jazz.

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Dennis Schwartz
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

An eye-opening film that captures ghetto life back in the 1960s.

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J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader

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.

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Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader

It certainly had a visceral impact when it first appeared, helped enormously by Baird Bryant's cinematography and Dizzy Gillespie's score.

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TV Guide

This little alleycat film captures the day-to-day desperation of the ghetto world, mainlining its images with transfusions of eclectic jazz background.

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Bosley Crowther
New York Times

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.

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Variety Staff

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.

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Keith H. Brown
Eye for Film

A truly unmissable, unforgettable experience.

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More reviews for The Cool World

Flixster Audience Score: 54% Flixster User Reviews
Stella Dallas
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… More