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Cooley High

Cooley High

1975

On Chicago's Near North Side, a tight-knit group of friends revels in the carefree joys of adolescence - late-night parties, new connections, and endless possibility. But for two of them, life takes a sudden turn when they're mistaken for crooks and arrested, sparking a wild ride through high school drama and chaos that culminates in a thrilling conclusion.

Runtime: 107 min

Language:

Directors:

Ratings:

Metacritic

72

Metascore

tbd

User Score

Metacritic
review

89%

TOMATOMETER

review

89%

User Score

Metacritic

7.1 /10

IMDb Rating

Metacritic

67.0

%

User Score

Check out what happened in Cooley High!

In the sweltering summer of 1964, the vibrant streets of Chicago's North Side came alive in the Cabrini-Green project, a predominantly African-American neighborhood that played host to a group of high school seniors navigating the ups and downs of adolescence. Among them was LeRoy "Preach" Jackson (Glynn Thurman), a charismatic student with a passion for writing and poetry, who often found himself skipping classes despite his academic prowess. His best friend Richard "Cochise" Morris (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs) was always by his side, along with their close-knit group of friends Pooter (Corin Rogers), Willie (Maurice Leon Havis), and Tyrone (Joseph Carter Wilson).

One fateful Friday, Preach decided to return to class after a week-long absence, but his attention span was short-lived. As the monotony of the lesson became too much to bear, he feigned a sudden nosebleed, joining his friends in a daring escape from the classroom. The group's afternoon adventure took them to the local zoo, where they indulged in carefree laughter and camaraderie. However, their fun was short-lived, as they soon found themselves returning to school too late for classes.

As they settled into Martha's diner, a beloved gathering spot owned and operated by the warm-hearted Martha (Juanita McConnell), they discovered that their history exam had been moved to Monday, leaving them with precious little time to study. The group spent the evening socializing and snacking on treats while their classmates danced to the rhythm of jukebox tunes.

As the night wore on, Preach and Cochise found themselves immersed in a dice game dominated by a pair of unsavory characters, Stone (Sherman Smith) and Robert (Norman Gibson). But just as they were getting comfortable, a stunning schoolmate named Brenda (Cynthia Davis) burst into their midst, demanding to be let through to reach the bathroom. The group's reluctance to move only intensified when Martha herself intervened, brandishing a menacing meat cleaver.

Before calling it a night, Preach and Cochise met up with their respective girlfriends, Johnny Mae (Jackie Taylor) and Sandra (Christine Jones), for some romantic interludes. While Johnny Mae was more than willing to take things to the next level with Cochise, Sandra remained hesitant to reciprocate Preach's affections, leaving the young man wondering what the future might hold. As the friends parted ways, little did they know that the challenges and triumphs of their senior year were only just beginning.

As evening descends on Cochise's humble abode, the tension simmering beneath the surface becomes palpable. His mother Melba (Lily Schine), though initially evasive, ultimately reveals that she has had to come to the aid of her partner Jimmie Lee, who found himself in a precarious situation with the authorities. The weight of this revelation is only slightly offset by Cochise's own news: he has earned a coveted sports scholarship to college the following year, as announced in a sealed envelope he carefully opens after finding it floating in the toilet bowl.

As dinner draws to a close, Cochise slips away to meet up with his friends Preach and the others. In celebration of his good fortune, they each take a sip from a wine bottle, paying homage to their absent companions by first anointing the ground with a small libation. The gang then makes its way to Dorothy's family apartment, where a private party is in full swing as her parents are away for the evening.

Upon arriving at the apartment, Cochise and his friends are initially rebuffed by Dorothy, who turns Stone and Robert away from the festivities. However, Preach and Cochise concoct a plan to gain entry without paying the 25-cent cover charge. As Tyrone charms Dorothy with his flirtatious advances, Preach takes up position at the door, allowing his friend to slip in unnoticed. Once inside, Cochise's eyes are drawn to the captivating Loretta Brown (Sharon Murff), and he asks her to join him for a dance.

Meanwhile, Preach sets out to track down Brenda, finally locating her in a secluded back room where she is immersed in the poetry of Robert Browning. Initially skeptical when Preach declares his admiration for the great poet, Brenda's reserve is eventually breached as Preach recites a contemporary poem with evident passion. Their conversation is soon interrupted, however, by the sudden arrival of Damon, whose volatile temper is ignited by the sight of Loretta clinging to Cochise. As Dorothy pleads for calm, Damon launches into a ferocious attack, sending the evening hurtling towards chaos.

As the night wears on at Roscoe's Lounge, the friends' revelry is disrupted by Jimmy Lee's (Steven Williams) antics, which leave them in a precarious situation. The group decides to call it a night, but Preach and Cochise opt for a spontaneous joyride with Stone and Robert, unaware that they've commandeered a stolen Cadillac. When Preach claims he once drove a sleek Maserati, Stone takes him up on the challenge, only to discover that his friend's driving skills are as nonexistent as his actual experience behind the wheel.

As panic sets in with the approach of a police cruiser, the group embarks on a high-speed chase through the streets, eventually finding themselves trapped inside a massive warehouse. They barely manage to escape the law, but not before Preach inadvertently crashes the Cadillac into another vehicle. The friends scatter, leaving the authorities to deal with the aftermath.

The next morning, the gang converges at Willie's apartment for some last-minute cramming ahead of their history exam. Boredom soon sets in, and they resort to stealing Willie's little brother's prized Lone Ranger badge. Preach and Cochise then attempt to bully two prostitutes into paying them off with a fake badge, but their scheme is quickly exposed when the women realize it's a toy.

The group decides to treat themselves by taking their girlfriends out for a night at the movies, where things quickly go awry after Pooter carelessly spills popcorn on someone, sparking a fight. As tensions escalate, Preach returns home to find his mother preparing to leave for work and assigns him the task of looking after his younger sisters, Tooty and Dee.

Little does he know, Brenda has arrived at the doorstep, confessing her virgin status and leaving Preach feeling both surprised and touched. However, his delight is short-lived as he blurts out his earlier boast to Cochise about winning a dollar bet that he could get Brenda into bed. Enraged, Brenda storms off just as Tooty returns and catches the two in a compromising position.

Here's a rephrased version of the section:

The Monday morning chaos at school saw Preach ( actor name) attempting to placate Brenda with feigned innocence, but her icy silence was shattered only when she spotted Sandra's disapproving gaze. Before tensions could escalate, history teacher Mr. Mason (Garrett Morris) swooped in, warning Preach that academic failure would have far-reaching consequences, including a course flunking. But just as the exam was about to begin, two unmarked detectives burst onto the scene, arresting Preach and Cochise on charges of grand theft auto. The boys were stunned to discover that Stone and Robert had also been taken into custody.

At police headquarters, each boy was subjected to separate interrogations, with Preach and Cochise spinning contradictory tales. Unbeknownst to them, Mr. Mason arrived and vouched for their character, describing them as impulsive but not malicious. This testimony proved sufficient to secure the boys' release, although Stone and Robert remained convinced that they had been implicated by their friends.

Later that evening, Preach made a hasty retreat through an upstairs window, desperate to avoid his mother's wrath. However, he found himself face-to-face with Tooty's note, revealing Mrs. Jackson's determination to uncover the reasons behind her son's arrest and his sudden appearance at home with Brenda. Despite Preach's attempts to explain, his mother remained unsatisfied, ordering him to fetch his belt for a well-deserved punishment.

By the time Preach sheepishly returned, his mother had succumbed to exhaustion, leaving him feeling relieved but also uneasy about the consequences. The following day brought yet another shock when Preach and Cochise learned that Stone and Robert held them responsible for their own arrest. As tensions simmered beneath the surface, Preach faced a further rebuke from Mr. Mason, who had caught him gambling in the boys' bathroom and was appalled by his friend's lack of ambition. Feeling betrayed by the teacher's words, Preach hastened to confide in Cochise about their predicament.

Here's my attempt to rephrase the section:

As Preach sips his drink at Roscoe's Lounge, he's left stunned by Cochise's revelation that he spent the afternoon with Sandra. Fuming over his best friend's betrayal, Preach takes a swing at Cochise and storms away, his anger simmering like a pot on high heat. Seeking solace at Martha's Diner, Preach finds Brenda and approaches her with an uncommon display of humility, apologizing for his past transgressions and asking for another chance to make things right. However, before he can continue, Preach overhears Damon's warm greeting for Stone and Robert as they emerge from the depths of incarceration on bail, their faces etched with the weight of freedom. Alarmed by this unexpected development, Preach implores Brenda to meet him at a nearby elevated train stop, attempting to hide in the bathroom like a fugitive avoiding capture. Meanwhile, Martha brandishes her trusty cleaver, driving Stone and Robert out of the diner with a determined flourish.

As Stone and Robert's gang chases Preach away from Martha's Diner, Cochise coincidentally runs into Brenda at this pivotal moment, sharing tales of the confrontation that has unfolded. After Preach evades capture by hiding in a dumpster, he picks up Brenda, only to realize on the train that her words have awakened a new fear: the gang will be hunting him down as well. Disembarking at the next stop to return to Martha's neighborhood, Preach is unaware that Stone and Robert are mere steps behind, their rage fueled by their desire for retribution.

In the aftermath of Cochise's brutal beating, Preach finds his friend lying unconscious on the ground, the once-strong bonds of their friendship now irreparably shattered. Despite his efforts to rouse Cochise, the damage has been done, and he succumbs to his injuries while Preach calls out for help in vain.

Days later, as a somber dirge fills the air at Cochise's funeral, Preach stands apart from the small gathering of mourners, his heart heavy with grief. After paying his respects at the casket, Preach raises a toast to "absent friends," reciting a heartfelt poem he has penned in honor of his fallen comrade. Vowing that their circle will endure despite this tragedy, Preach jogs away from the cemetery, his spirit buoyed by the promise of better days ahead.

In the film's poignant epilogue, still images of several characters reveal their fates:

Preach (actor name) has found success as a writer in Hollywood, California.

Stone and Robert met a tragic end two years later during a botched holdup.

Brenda now works as a librarian, married to her soulmate, and resides in Atlanta with her husband and three children.

Damon donned the uniform of the U.S. Army and currently serves abroad.

Pooter has found stability as a factory worker, residing in Muncie, Indiana.

Tyrone fell victim to senseless violence at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago.