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Film / Cooley High

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This 1975 Coming of Age film, directed by Michael Schultz, has been described as "The Black American Graffiti."

The story explores the adventures and relationships of Leroy "Preach" Jackson (Glynn Turman) and Richard "Cochise" Morris (Lawrence Hilton Jacobs), two black high school students at Edwin J. Cooley High School whose carefree lives take a turn for the worse through several twists of fate.

Set in 1964 Chicago, the film features an all-Motown soundtrack, including the original version of "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday", which was later Covered Up by Boyz II Men on their debut album Cooleyhighharmony.

A TV series was planned, which actually ended up being retooled into the nearly-unrecognizable What's Happening!!.


This movie provides of examples of the following tropes:

  • Anachronism Stew: Several of the songs used in the film were released after the period in which it is supposedly set.
  • Author Avatar: Preach wants to go to Hollywood and become a screenwriter.
  • Downer Ending: Cochise gets beaten to death, and the epilogue reveals that several other characters died early and violent deaths.
  • Present-Day Past: A lot of the clothing, hair, and cars in this movie look more like 1975 than 1964.
  • The '60s: When it takes place (but you often can't tell because of all the Present-Day Past).
  • The '70s: When it was made.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Played completely straight, just like in American Graffiti. This was probably before this trope became a stock parody.
    • Preach: went on to enjoy a successful career in Hollywood as a screenwriter.
    • Stone and Robert: killed during a 1966 gas station robbery.
    • Brenda: moved to Atlanta, married, had three children and works as a librarian.
    • Damon: A sergeant in the in the Army, stationed in Europe.
    • Pooter: a factory worker in Indiana.
    • Tyrone: killed in 1968 during a riot at the Chicago Democratic National Convention