Cooley High Screen 4 articles

Cooley High


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  • More ambitious and less successful than his exuberant Car Wash, Michael Schultz’s first feature can be viewed with hindsight as the promising debut of a very talented director, intermittently doing what he can with an uneven and somewhat routine script. Previously known for his work in the New York Theatre (where he directed the Negro Ensemble Company) and TV, Schultz is clearly someone whose humor, handling of actors and spirited kaleidoscopic rhythms have a distinctive flavor all their own.

  • Good times ebb faster than in Car Wash, whose Eulogy For The Fallen Promise Of Civil RIghts Black America is compacted into the last scene, and therefore that much more powerful, whereas the third act here takes a while to play out, none for the better.

  • The mischievous adventures of Preach and Cochise (Glynn Turman and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs) are as rife with revenge, betrayal, womanizing, and scrapes with the fuzz as those triumphs, but Schultz and screenwriter Eric Monte (inspired by his youth in Chicago housing projects) harmonize the strife with unpredictable humor and a whole lotta Motown.

  • Hectic yet smooth and powered by an extensive playlist of vintage Motown, “Cooley High” foreshadows Mr. Schultz’s 1976 follow-up, “Car Wash,” one of the great ensemble comedies and musical films of the decade, as well as one of the few Hollywood movies that might be legitimately be called Brechtian in its pondering of the nature of earning a living.

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