The Cool World was Frederick Wiseman's first involvement with cinema (he produced it) and Shirley Clarke's second feature as director/writer (after The Connection). At heart, it's a not-very-interesting melodrama about a black kid in Harlem learning the hard way that crime is no answer to social problems. But on the surface it's a very much more interesting view of day-to-day life in the ghetto, patterned as a flow of 'insignificant' incidents, variously angry, frightened and defeated characters, and all too credible pressures. Often crudely photographed, but with a brilliantly multi-layered sound-track which integrates some fine jazz.
Cast and crew
Shirley Clarke, Carl Lee