The Essential Archives series from Pittsburgh Sound + Image is proud to present a movie so rare that we haven’t even seen it yet! Legendary filmmaker Shirley Clarke’s work has rightfully experienced a resurgence in the past decade, with almost all of her features receiving restorations and lavish home video editions from Milestone Film and Video. The missing piece, however, is The Cool World (1963.) Among those who have seen it, it’s often proclaimed as her greatest. In spite of being added to the National Film Registry in 1994, it also happens to be one of the more difficult to see features by a major American filmmaker.
With The Cool World, Clarke continues her exploration of narratives about outcasts of mid-century US life, this time turning her attention towards Harlem gangs. The ahead of its time, on-location, vérité style with which she crafted the drama (all set to a score by Dizzy Gillespie) has caused some to refer to The Cool World as a proto-Blaxploitation film.
This very rare presentation will be from a 16mm print rented from producer Frederick Wiseman’s Zipporah Films. This is currently the only legal way of seeing The Cool World. It hasn’t played on Pittsburgh screens in decades, so don’t miss this!