The Cool World

Jazz on Film

This landmark independent film directed by Shirley Clarke reflects the harsh realities of Harlem street life through the story of 15-year-old Duke and his gang. The young cast’s naturalness and the style of the film’s photography place its story within a cinematic document of unflinching realism.

Jazz pianist Mal Waldron composed the score, which is performed by a Dizzy Gillespie–led quintet. Unavailable on any video format or streaming platform, The Cool World is presented at the MFAH in a 35mm restoration for this special 60th anniversary screening.

Preceded By
Daybreak Express 
Directed by D. A. Pennebaker
(USA, 1953) A colorful montage of New York’s elevated trains is set to music by Duke Ellington.

Access to Films in Brown Auditorium Theater
While the entry from Main Street into the Law Building is under construction, park in the Beck Building garage (1144 Binz Street) and take the Wilson Tunnel to the theater. Construction does not affect access to Lynn Wyatt Theater in the Kinder Building. Campus Map

The MFAH film department is supported by Tenaris; The June Leaf and Robert Frank Foundation; the Vaughn Foundation; The Consulate General of the Republic of Korea; Nina and Michael Zilkha; Franci Neely; Carrin Patman and Jim Derrick; Ms. Laurence Unger; L'Alliance Française de Houston; and ILEX Foundation.

Generous support has been provided by Gerry Aitken, Richard Levy and Dinah Chetrit, and Anne Tucker and Robert Morris.

The Cool World

Directed by Shirley Clarke
(USA, 1965, 104 minutes, in English)
Brown Auditorium Theater, 35mm


Caroline Wiess Law Building
1001 Bissonnet Street
Houston, TX 77005
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