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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Cooley High [Blu-ray]


(Michael Schultz, 1975)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: American International Pictures (AIP)

Video: Olive Films



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:47:13.468

Disc Size: 23,001,107,624 bytes

Feature Size: 22,798,245,888 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 21st, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1858 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1858 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)






• None





Description: Michael Schultz directed this deeply felt recollection of adolescent life on Chicago's near North Side in 1964. Like American Graffiti, Cooley High deals with girl, school, and police troubles as a group of high-school seniors prepare for post-high-school life. The chums are Glynn Turman as "Preach," who loves to read poetry and history and wants to become a Hollywood screenwriter, but who has the worst grades in the school; and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs as Cochise, the high-school basketball star and suave lady-killer. Preach has to contend with love problems in the form of Brenda (Cynthia Davis), school problems with emphatic teacher Mr. Mason (Garrett Morris), and law problems with street toughs Stone (Shermann Smith) and Robert (Norman Gibson).



The Film:

An enormous box-office hit in the States, Cooley High - a kind of black American Graffiti or Lords of Flatbush about a group of high school kids in the '60s (hence Motown soundtrack) - is streets ahead of the average blaxploitation effort, yet is still something of a disappointment. Partly the fault lies with the script, and partly with a certain commercial gloss; one or two of the characters nevertheless do come over with some distinctiveness, thanks to OK performances.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Despite its all black cast and brick wall verisimilitude, Cooley High, directed by Michael Schultz, hews fairly close to the George Lucas paradigm, leapfrogging from vignette to vignette in lieu of a linear script while a jukebox soundtrack of Motown hits sweetens the pot. The film was another winner for Sam Arkoff, who reaped a $13 million return on his investment. Cooley High gets good use out of a mostly amateur cast (particularly Cynthia Davis, as the good girl who falls for Turman's promising bad boy) and some industry newcomers. Negro Ensemble member Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs went on to costar on the sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter while Garrett Morris became a "Not Ready for Prime Time Player" on Lorne Michaels' Saturday Night (later Saturday Night Live). Seen briefly as a basketball player is Cabrini-Green resident Robert Townsend, later the director of Hollywood Shuffle (1987) and The Five Heartbeats (1991).

Excerpt from TCM located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Cooley High has a, predictably, modest Blu-ray transfer from Olive Films. This is single-layered with a decent bitrate. I don't know that dual-layering would benefit the visuals extensively. The colors are much richer than I would have anticipated with some deep reds and greens. There are some appreciate textures and a bit of depth in the frame. The Blu-ray improved the presentation over an SD rendering and any minor flaws had no detrimental effect on my viewing. It looks surprisingly adept in 1080P.
















Audio :

Olive use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1858 kbps. There are not many effects in Cooley High, but plenty of Motown music. As well as Freddie Perren's score we get Diana Ross & the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye plus Martha & the Vandellas, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, The Temptations, The Four Tops among others. The brief moments of music are pleasantly rich.  There are no subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.



Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with their releases. It would have been nice to have something for Cooley High as it is worthy of discussion.



Cooley High has a lot of nostalgic value. It's a film with its own unique charm with a period study of a group of black youths. Like the film's it is often compared to - Cooley High has a genuineness akin to vérité. The bare-bones Blu-ray exports a fine presentation in both audio and video. It is a film worth seeing very few years. It's a shame there are no supplements, but the package still offers value in the 1080P transfer of a memorable film. 

Gary Tooze

April 8th, 2015

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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