Shirley Clarke Albert Johnson - Essay

Albert Johnson

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

For all its brusque cutting, disjointed narrative, and frustrating half-glances at its characters, [The Cool World] is the most important film document about Negro life in Harlem to have been made so far. It is a steadfast perusal of a group of adolescents, members of a gang calling them-selves the "Royal Pythons"; but Clarke is as interested in the streets, buildings, backyards, and faces of Harlem as she is in her misguided young hero, Duke Custis…. With the aid of two extremely perceptive cameramen, Baird Bryant and Leroy McLucas, the director manages to seize upon those details that make The Cool World a work of visual poetry, and in sound, a tone poem of the slums. There is little humor in the...

(The entire section is 835 words.)