Cool Breeze (film)

Cool Breeze is a 1972 American blaxploitation film directed by Barry Pollack and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.[1] The film Cool Breeze is loosely based on W. R. Burnett's 1949 novel, and is a remake of the 1950 film The Asphalt Jungle with a predominately black cast. Upon the movie’s release, the film was released with the tagline: "He hit the Man for $3 million. Right where it hurts. In the diamonds. And baby, that's cold."

Cool Breeze
Original Theatrical Poster
Directed byBarry Pollack
Produced byGene Corman
Screenplay byBarry Pollack
Based onThe Asphalt Jungle
by W. R. Burnett
StarringThalmus Rasulala
Jim Watkins
Judy Pace
Lincoln Kilpatrick
Raymond St. Jacques
Music bySolomon Burke
CinematographyAndy David
Edited byMorton Tubor
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
July 2, 1972[1]
Running time
101 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States


Sidney Lord Jones is a convicted felon who is granted an early release by the parole board in San Quentin. While imprisoned, he learns about the underworld diamond trade from reading and studying trade magazines. It motivates him to plan a heist to steal $3 million worth of diamonds from the largest diamond brokerage on the Pacific Coast.[3]

After his release, Jones returns to Los Angeles and proposes the idea to ‘the Money Man’ Bill Mercer and "Stretch" Finian, in hopes that Mercer would provide the $50,000 seed money needed to set up the heist. Jones recommends using profits from the heist to start a community bank to support black-owned businesses,[3] in addition the bank could be used to launder illegal business activities. Unbeknownst to Jones, Mercer is having financial difficulty and has little money. However, he agrees to provide the funds, but secretly plans to keep all the loot for himself. To accomplish the heist, Mercer and Jones assemble a group of men consisting of Travis Battle (‘the Muscle Man’) a well-known career criminal, Roy Harris (‘the Box Man’) an expert safe-cracker transformed into a Christian minister, and John Battle (‘the Driver’) an honest business man and half-brother of Travis. Unfortunately, after the successful robbery, the group finds themselves caught up in a string of unhappy accidents and double crosses.

Gender/sexuality in the film

Gender and sexuality in the film have been highly critiqued by film critiques who noted the characters mistreatment of women. The director of the film very intentionally portrays the young women as sexy but lacking complexity. This is a common theme that can be noted in many black films in which "the sexual dimension of American racism is reflected in the motion picture portrayal of the black woman" as is stated by Edward Mapp in Black Women in Films (142).[4]

Critics such as Roger Greenspun note that "Cool Breeze has rather a lot to say about sexy young girls, and about sex generally (much of it fairly brutal), and about whatever matters of practical philosophy happen to pass through the minds of its characters" (New York Times 1972).[5]

Reviews and reception

The film received very poor reviews overall. Critics reported that the characters were dry and lack dimension and the climax ended with a plot that seemed to lose its momentum. Much of the issues that were introduced in the beginning of the film were left unresolved by the end. Critics note that the film had a talented cast however the plot and character development was lacking. Though this is true, there were a few good scenes that were noted by film reviewers.

Roger Greenspun of the New York Times opened his review by writing, "From M‐G‐M, the company that gave you 'Gone With the Wind,' there now comes 'Cool Breeze,' a mostly black remake of 'The Asphalt Jungle'—also given you by M‐G‐M. Actually, the quality of blackness is somewhat strained, embracing as it does much of the cast, and most of the attitudes, and virtually all the ad campaign—but none of the major technical credits, including Gene Corman as producer and Barry Pollack, who directed and wrote the screenplay."[5]

He cited that the film "really has nowhere to take its observations, since it is neither militant nor pacifist, but only, sporadically, ironic. And the film seems at each moment to be diminished below its potential even when it attempts strong bravado. Pollack directs some sequences very well, but he seems unsure of what matters dramatically and what doesn't, and he is unevenly served by his cast. The cast is only good in its sadness, and especially with Raymond St. Jacques as Mercer, the high‐powered fence (the Louis Calhern role in 'The Asphalt Jungle') who loses every thing except an understanding that the best use of the substance of life is to support a style."[5]


See also


  1. "Cool Breeze". 2 July 1972 via IMDb.
  2. "Cool Breeze". 2 July 1972 via IMDb.
  3. "Cool Breeze (1972) - Overview -".
  4. MAPP, EDWARD (1 January 1973). "BLACK WOMEN IN FILMS". The Black Scholar. 4 (6/7): 42–46. JSTOR 41163796.
  5. "Movie Review - - The Screen: 'Cool Breeze':Heist Planned to Fund Black People's Bank -". Retrieved 2016-05-06.
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