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The Cool World (15*)

Bebop New York

The Cool World

Set to Dizzy Gillespie’s celebrated jazz score, this portrait of 1960s Harlem street life was the first feature shot on location in the borough.

One hot Harlem summer, teenager Duke pesters a local mobster to sell him a gun that will win him renown as a “cool killer” and allow him to take over the gang, The Royal Pythons, to which he belongs.

Adapted from a contemporary novel, this is fiction with a flavour of real life, loose and freeform-feeling, shot on location with a cast of local non-professionals and partially improvised performances. Its heady, un-Hollywood blend of improvisation and stunning verité-style black-and-white street photography is perfectly complemented by Dizzie Gillespie’s bebop score.

Director Shirley Clarke was a central figure in the burgeoning American independent filmmaking scene of 50s and 60s New York, and this film is a landmark, recently preserved by the Library of Congress on the 35mm print shown here.

US 1963 Dir Shirley Clarke 125 min 35mm presentation  
This film was preserved by the Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center from original camera negatives in the Zipporah Films Collection

The Bebop New York film season accompanies the major exhibition Lee Krasner: Living Colour in the Art Gallery from 30 May – 1 Sep 2019.

* = locally classified by the City of London Corporation

Please arrive promptly at the advertised start time

Proof of ID may be requested on entry to films, in compliance with BBFC ratings

Library of Congress


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