Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 17th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1975
Director: Michael Schultz
Writer: Eric Monte
Cast: Glynn Turman, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Garrett Morris, Cynthia Davis, Corin Rogers, Maurice Leon Havis, Joseph Carter Wilson, Steven Williams
BluRay released: April 21st, 2015
Approximate running time: 107 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
BluRay Release: Olive Films
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
Set in the 1960’s, this film revolves around the lives of the students that go to Cooley High. With the plot focusing primarily on two students Cochise, an all American basketball player and his best friend Preach, a young man who has the potential to be smartest kid in his class.
Cooley High was directed by Michael Schultz whose other notable films include, Car Wash, Grease Lightening and The Last Dragon. Key collaborators on Cooley High include screenwriter (The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, What’s Happening!!), cinematographer Paul Vombrack (Cat People) and composer Freddie Perren (Hell up in Harlem). Also the soundtrack is made up from various Motown artists like Diana Ross and The Supremes and Smokey Robinson & The Miracles.
For Cochise and Preach, the world is theirs for the taking as they spend the first half of the film clowning around just having some good old fashion fun. Doing things like skipping school and going to the zoo or going to make out parties. Then about half way through the film things start to get really serious as when these two friends decided to get into a car with two of their classmates who have less the reputable reputations. This event not only gets them briefly in trouble with the lay, since the car was stolen. It also sets in motion this film’s tragic finale where the other two boys who stole the car are out for blood and convinced that Cochise and Preach snitched on them.
From a performance standpoint the cast range from adequate to very good. With Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (‘Welcome Back, Kotter’) and Glynn Turman (Five on the Black Hand Side), in the roles of Cochise and Preach carry the weight of this film with their stellar performances. Other performances of note include Garrett Morris (‘SNL’, The Stuff) in the role of a high school teacher named Mr. Mason, Steven Williams (’21 Jump Street’) in the role of street hustler named Jimmy Lee and Cynthia Davis in the role of Brenda, the girl that Preach falls in love with. Sadly this would mark Cynthia Davis’s one and only credit as an actress.
Though Cooley High is considered part of the Blaxploitation film cycle. It actually has more in common with George Lucas’s American Graffiti, since the primary focus of both are nostalgic stories about being an adolescents. With the main difference between these two films being American Graffiti is from a Caucasians viewpoint, while Cooley High is from an African American viewpoint. With that being said, though they may appear on the surface to be world apart when upon closer inspection they actually tackle many of the same core issues that are integral to the adolescence experience.
Cooley High comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This is another strong transfer that greatly improves upon this film’s previous home video releases. Colors and amount of details in every frame, are the two areas which this film shows is biggest leap in quality when compared to its previous home video releases. Also grain looks natural, there are no issues with compression and DNR is kept in check.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English. This is a dialog driven film and range wise things sound as good as one would expect from a mono source. The film’s soundtrack benefits most from this audio mix as it sounds appropriately robust. Also when it comes to dialog it is always clear enough to follow and everything sounds balanced.
This release comes with no extra content. Overall Olive Films gives Cooley High its best audio/ video presentation to date.
Note: Olive Films are also releasing this film on DVD.