Michael Schultz’s 1975 American International film Cooley High is one of those
films, like Love and Basketball, that seems to be on every “most beloved” black
The period dramedy
set, in 1964 Chicago, chronicles the lives of two best high school buddies,
Preach (played by Glynn Truman), a serious minded guy with aspirations of
becoming a famous writer and his best friend Cochise (played Lawrence-Hilton
Jacobs), the school basketball hero who’s
headed for college and what looks like a promising career.
Together we follow
them as the goof off, fall in love, cut class, crash parties, and other shenanigans
that most teenagers get involved in, as they dream on how to leave their run
down, poverty stricken neighborhood for greener pastures. The only thing that
really stand in their way are two local thugs who are out to get them for
revenge after a stolen car joy ride goes wrong.
only $750,000 (which went a long way 40 years ago) the film, which was written
by Eric Monte, has wonderful period detail
and is a sweet, heartfelt, nostalgic film
that is never overbearing or sentimental, but retains an urban grittiness which
gives it a sense of believability..
And now, finally after all these decades, it’s finally coming out, all remastered and
looking better than ever before, on blu-ray DVD through Olive Films on April 21th.
But if that isn’t
enough, the following next Tuesday on April 28th Olive Films will be releasing as well Robert
Townsend’s 1987 seminal and groundbreaking comedy Hollywood Shuffle. Famously financed
on credit cards and a pure example of guerrilla filmmaking, Townsend’s film,
though humor, still hits some bitter
truths about the struggles, ugly realities and indignities that black actors
have to face in order to work in the film business.
story of a struggling black actor in Hollywood, based on his own personal experiences
and played by Townsend himself (who not only directed, but also co-wrote the
film with Keenan Ivory Wayans), and using comedy skits spoofing moves and TV
shows, Shuffle was a sensation when it first came out and it’s still actually just as relevant today as it was when it first came out.
No details as
yet to any extras such as commentaries or any “looking back” features,
but considering that many of the participants, both in front of and behind the camera
for both films, are very much around today and still active there’s no
reason why some special features will not be included on both releases.
trailer for Hollywood Shuffle