Shirley Clarke’s The Cool World (1964)

Not to be confused with Cool World (Ralph Bakshi’s last animated feature film) The Cool World is a real, raw and straight from the streets of Harlem, U.S.A. Satorially, the brothers on the cover of Manchild In the Promised Land (see the post below) look a lot like the characters in this film but slightly older. This is a period I’m very interested in right now: mid-Sixties style in cinema, including but not limited to the urban milleu. Satorial mindedness aside, The Cool World is the story of Duke, a teenager making his way through the minefield that is 1960s Harlem. Played superbly by a 14 year old Rony Clanton (who would 10 years later star in the classic The Eduacation of Sonny Carson) Duke looks to by a gun from the neighboorhood hustler Priest (Superfly‘s Carl Lee) in order to become president of his gang. Stark, rhythmic and hip, The Cool World is the unknown and rarely seen  gem of American Cinema Verite.


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