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Cooley High Criterion Blu-ray Review

“Cooley High” is a coming-of-age gem.  

Set in Chicago in the year 1964, “Cooley High” primarily revolves around the adventures of 2 friends (Preach and Cochise) who are on the verge of graduating high school (Edwin G. Cooley High School to be exact). Cochise has a basketball scholarship while Preach is drawn to writing and poetry. The 2 ditch school, go to a zoo, gamble, have romantic adventures, party, fight, steal and even evade the police, but it’s not all fun and games for these 2 friends as they come face to face with the harsh realities of life.

While no doubt influenced by “American Graffiti,” 1975’s “Cooley High” has solidified itself as not only a classic coming-of-age story, but a landmark cinematic story about Black teens. Director Michael Schultz and screenwriter Eric Monte have crafted a very honest, funny, and heartfelt story about friendship and dreams. It’s not just a comedic story about the antics of 2 friends as the film ends in a downbeat fashion. Without spoiling what occurs, the event that transpires gives the film depth and an emotional weight. It may be a story about youth, but it’s also about so much more than that as it explores mortality and violence. 

There’s no doubt that this a movie about a time and a place too (the 60’s) and, as such, the movie is backed up by a truly great time specific soundtrack of Motown classics such as “Baby Love,” “My Girl,” “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” “Money (That’s What I Want)” and so many more. It really adds to the movie as a whole to say the least.

Cast wise, there’s a number of notable performances here from the 2 leads Glynn Turman (Preach) and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (Cochise), Garrett Morris of “Saturday Night Live” fame as the teacher Mr. Mason, and Cynthia Davis as Brenda.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? The 4K digital transfer maintains the 70’s aesthetic all while providing a quality upgrade with rich colors.

Audio Track: Uncompressed Mono. How does it sound? The audio is a little flat in terms of the dialogue, but the music tends to sound sharp. Optional English subtitles are included here.

Extras:
* A booklet with credits, photos, and an essay by journalist/author Craigh Barboza.
* “Academy Tribute”- A 66 minute 2019 panel with host Robert Townsend, director Michael Schultz, casting director Gloria Schultz, and cast members Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs and Garrett Morris with more special guests (no spoilers here). Discussions range from the film’s legacy to set experiences.
* “The Cooley High Story”- A short 9 ½ minute TCM making of special on “Cooley High” featuring cast and crew interviews.
* “Remembering Cooley High”- A newly recorded 35 ½ minute interview with director Michael Schultz and film scholar Racquel J. Gates. Expect a lot of stories about how Schultz became attached to the project as well as his experiences in making the film.
 

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December 17, 2022 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , ,

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