Past Film/Video | Classics

Cooley High

(Michael Schultz, 1975)

35MM Print

A group of four young men standing together

Set in Chicago’s Near North Side, Michael Schultz’s influential Cooley High follows a group of friends during their final weeks of high school in 1964.

A direct response to the Blaxploitation cycle of films in the early 1970s, Cooley High follows the tight-knit group as they try to squeeze the most out of those final days—hanging out, attending parties, going to the movies, and doing their best with girls. As Schultz recounts in Wil Haygood’s new book Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World, “what I thought about the script was that no one had seen real love on screen between Black kids. What I knew was, this was unique in terms of humor and tragedy and the strong bond between these Black boys. And if I could show these things—hijinks, heartbreak—then the movie could stick around for a long time.”

A profound influence on a generation of filmmakers that includes Spike Lee and John Singleton, Cooley High highlights Schultz’s skill as a director of actors including the likes of Glynn Turman (A Different World), Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (Welcome Back, Kotter), and Garrett Morris (Saturday Night Live). Featuring a spectacular Motown soundtrack with hits by the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Martha and The Vandellas, and The Four Tops. (107 mins., 35mm)

See the complete Retrospective: Michael Schultz lineup.

"What I thought about the script was that no one had seen real love on screen between Black kids."
Michael Schultz
A group of four young men standing together

Cooley High, image courtesy of Park Circus

Two men, one in a suit and one in a letterman jacket with the letter C on the chest are walking together and smiling

Cooley High, image courtesy of Park Circus

Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.

Thank you to Larry and Donna James for their generous support of this event.

Cardinal Health
Kaufman Development

Rohauer Collection Foundation

The Wexner Family
Greater Columbus Arts Council
The Columbus Foundation
Ohio Arts Council
American Electric Power Foundation
Adam Flatto
Mary and C. Robert Kidder
Bill and Sheila Lambert
L Brands Foundation
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Nationwide Foundation
Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease
Arlene and Michael Weiss

Carol and David Aronowitz
Michael and Paige Crane
Pete Scantland
Axium Packaging
Bocchi Laboratories
Fenwick & West LLP
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
President Kristina M. Johnson and Mrs. Veronica Meinhard
Nancy Kramer
M/I Homes
Voyant Beauty
Lisa Barton
Regina Miracle International Ltd.
Washington Prime Group
Alene Candles
Fuel Transport
Russell and Joyce Gertmenian
Liza Kessler and Greg Henchel
Matrix Psychological Services
Paramount Group, Inc.
Ron and Ann Pizzuti
Joyce and Chuck Shenk
Bruce and Joy Soll
Clark and Sandra Swanson
Business Furniture Installations
E.C. Provini Co, Inc.
Garlock Printing & Converting
Jones Day
New England Development
Our Country Home
Performance Team
Premier Candle Corporation
Steiner + Associates
Textile Printing
Andrew and Amanda Wise


Past Film/Video

Cooley High