Cool Hand Luke (1967) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: Luke Jackson is a cool, gutsy prisoner in a Southern chain gang, who, while refusing to buckle under to authority, keeps escaping and being recaptured. The prisoners admire Luke because, as Dragline explains it, "You're an original, that's what you are!" Nevertheless, the camp staff actively works to crush Luke until he finally breaks. Runtime: 126 mins Release Date: 31 Oct 1967
Not just a prison film, but an excellent film about not being able to conform in a world that requires it (by clydestuff)
Having had the advantage of reading Donn Pearce's novel about a year before seeing Cool Hand Luke, it was with great anticipation that I awaited it's transfer to the big screen. I was not disappointed.Cool Hand Luke could easily be classified by the misguided as just a prison yarn, but it is so much more than that. It is the story of a man who refuses to be nailed down or conform to the rules and regulations of a society that he has never craved to fit into. When Lucas Jackson is arrested for cutting heads off parking meters, his explanation to the prison captain Strother Martin is <more>
"Small Town, not much to do in the evening", which would have us believe he was just being drunk and stupid. Later, to one of the other inmates he mutters the same answer, but importantly adds "just settlin some old scores". It is a brief but important point in helping to define the character of Luke beyond just being drunk and damaging public property. As a service man, we also discover that Luke won a bronze star, achieved the rank of sergeant but came out as a private. Again, early evidence that Luke is unable to conform to any body's rules but his own. Yet, we are given clear evidence that Luke knows what is right in principal and what is wrong. At one point in the film when they are putting Luke in the box under less than reasonable circumstances, he tells the boss, "calling it your job don't make it right, Boss." In a visit from his mother Arletta Jo Van Fleet , Luke says plenty about his own character by telling her, "A man's got to go his own way" or as he also puts it, "I tried to live always free and above board like you but I can't seem to find no elbow room". As Luke enters the prison that will supposedly be his home for the next two years, we meet the other inmates. Some of them wear chains, some of them do not. It is a point early in the film that director Stuart Rosenberg, emphasizes. We understand quickly that sooner or later you conform. You either walk the line the way the bosses tell you to, or they will find the means to get you to walk the line. As the Captain reiterates, "for your own good, you'll learn the rules" A point driven home often.What we discover about their crimes is minuscule. One is jailed for manslaughter after hitting a pedestrian with his car, another is a paper hanger, another new inmate is charged with breaking, entering and assault. The nature of their crimes is unimportant to us. It enables to view these prisoners as men, and while we don't feel any genuine sympathy for them, feeling disgusted by their crimes would have been a distraction from the true purpose of Pearce's story, and Luke as the focal point. Because of his individuality, it doesn't take Luke long before he unexpectedly becomes a hero to the other inmates. It is not a role he chooses, or even wants. It unexpectedly imposes the burden on him of having to live up to the expectations of others. He never truly understands the nature of this hero worship, and would be just as happy if he didn't have to deal with it. He is still trying to find his way in the world, and if there is any real purpose for his existence.Another principal character is Dragline George Kennedy . It is he who finally establishes the fact that Cool Hand Luke is a man who can not be beaten. Dragline's admiration for Luke seems to extend from the fact that he Dragline has learned the rules on how to get by, but yet regrets having lost some of his own individuality in the process. He is the rest of the inmates in microcosm. I can't remember a role that George Kennedy has ever been better in, and he deservedly won the best supporting actor award.Cool Hand Luke is not without it's humorous moments especially in the early going. It is these moments that help move the film from the early stages to the darker more despairing later stages. Perhaps, for that reason alone we are even more effected by Luke's dilemma.In translating his novel to the screen Donn Pearce along with Frank Pierson, has managed to bring the heart and soul of his nove to the big screen. Lalo Shifrin's memorable score emphasizes often the repeated drudgery of working on the chain gang. Director Stuart Rosenberg made more good films after Cool Hand Luke, but in my opinion never achieved the same degree of perfection that he does here. As Cool Hand Luke, Paul Newman give one of the most memorable performances in a long distinguished career. It is not an easy task portraying a man who travels the road from being a sincere individualist, to a man who may be beaten and defeated, yet in the end is still unwilling to accept that fate. Although Rod Steiger won the best actor award that year, one could argue that Newman's role was more difficult, as it required substantially different subtle ranges in character. As for the failure of Cool Hand Luke to achieve a Best Picture nomination, I'm at a loss to explain that malfunction, especially when the likes of Doctor Doolittle and Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, far lesser efforts than this were nominated.Cool Hand Luke is a true classic in every sense of the word. It is a film that will long be remembered.My grade: A+
This is an absolute perfect movie in every way.Storyline,acting,settings---everything is perfect.Hollywood used to make great movies like this before it became the special effects driven computer generated movie making schlock capitol of the world.The great Paul Newman plays a prisoner locked up in a Southern jail after a night of petty crimes.His constant struggle to be free even while locked up makes this one of the greatest roles ever seen in a movie.Newman is at his absolute peak playing the cool Lucas Jackson.I was so struck by Newman's performance in this movie I was determined to <more>
name my son Lucas Jackson,but alas,I only had daughters and my wife wasn't too thrilled about naming either of them Lucas.Oh well.George Kennedy plays Jackson's enemy turned buddy and he is absolutely perfect also.His portrayal of Dragline is Kennedy at his finest.The sublime Strother Martin plays the prison captain and damn is he ever good.He was always so underrated as is Kennedy too,I think.In fact this whole movie is full of familiar faces that would go on to other big time roles in TV and movies.In this movie everyone meshes perfectly to create an unforgettable movie that will stay with you long after many other movies you've seen fade from memory.You must see this movie.
"For the secret of man's being is not only to live but to have something to live for. Without a stable conception of the object of life, man would not consent to go on living, and would rather destroy himself than remain on earth, though he had bread in abundance." - Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Stuart Rosenberg directs "Cool Hand Luke". The plot? Paul Newman plays Luke Jackson, a young drifter who returns home after WW2. Luke's been dealt one bad hand after the next, and, no matter how he plays his cards, always seems to lose. The film opens with Luke, drunk and shameless, <more>
knocking the heads off parking meters. The authorities try to cash in on our everyday movements, and this lack of freedom ticks Luke off. The poor guy just wants to be free, man.After being arrested, Luke is sent to a Florida prison. What then unfolds is one of the greatest existential movies of all time. Luke's experiences, his conversations with God, his isolation and alienation, and a pair of profound scenes, both involving his mother, elevate "Cool Hand Luke" above most prison-break movies.Of course this period saw a number of strong prison flicks "The Great Escape", "The Bridge on the River Kwai", "King Rat", "Birdman of Alcatraz", "Papillon", "Cuckoo's Nest", "The Hole", "Escape from Alcatraz", "A Man Escaped", "Riot in Cell Block 11" etc , but "Cool Hand Luke" takes a far more mythical stance. We don't know much about Luke. He's held at a distance, never looks anyone in the eyes when speaking and always has a sly grin on his face. And yet behind his smile we sense deep pain, though its a pain matched by a dogged spirit to continue fighting. Interestingly, whilst a film like "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" had a system that despite its flaws genuinely tried to heal and help others, Luke's social institution is corrupt and in many aspects pointless. Still, for a while Luke abides by it. He goes about the state's business with a smile, cutting grass and paving roads. He only has 2 years in chains. He can make it. And like he says, he has no place else to go. No plans. He plays his cards with cool, detached ambivalence.In one beautiful scene, Luke's dying mother comes to visit. What follows is a touching conversation, she informing us that tried her best with Luke, giving him nothing but love. And yet, no amount of motherly affection has helped her family. Because of this, she says, she "wishes mankind were like dogs". She wishes she could abandon her children and forget about them, never having to worry or fret about how they are, what they'll do or where they'll go. Of course she loves Luke, but hates the agony he puts her through. And yet we sense that she understands him intimately. Perhaps she admires him because she too has been dealt a life of bad hands.Luke's outlook changes when his mother dies and the prison warden locks him in a box for no particular reason. When the Boss says "Just doing my job", Luke replies "That don't make it right." From here on Luke begins to fight back. He refuses to spend his life on his knees and refuses to submit. The film then becomes a tale of resistance and idolatry. The other inmates quickly begin to idolise Luke, worshipping his never-give-up spirit. But rather than fight themselves, they sit back and exalt Luke, relying him to personify their own desires. Luke begins to resent this. "Step feeding off me!" he yells. But they're content to sit on the sidelines. He's a one man revolution, and like many revolutionaries is praised for his stance from afar but never actively supported. Why do men have to die for causes before we take notice?The film ends on an ambiguous note, in which Luke may or may not be riddled with bullets. Does Luke smile? Does he die? Does he survive? If he does survive, is his survival merely wishful thinking on the part of his fellow inmates? Note that the film's final image is a brief shot of a photograph. It was established in an earlier sequence that this idyllic photograph represents a lie. We also know that the photograph's image was staged and that the photograph itself was torn to shreds earlier in the film. The ending thus suggests that though Luke has died and the system utterly beaten him down, the men nevertheless choose to believe in him. They believe he has risen - indeed, the film is filled with Christian imagery - that he's survived death and still fighting the fight, sticking it to the man for all of mankind.But like that photograph, the inmate's belief is an illusion. Luke is dead, and though his fighting spirit remains in the hearts of these men, it will take something larger to wake them up and shake them out of weak surrender. In the end, "Cool Hand Luke" suggests something almost contradictory: that hope must be held onto lest we submit, but that such hope, fuelled by a kind of mythologising and shared delusion, is precisely what engenders submission. 9/10- An accidental masterpiece. The planets really lined up for this one. The only flaw is an overly silly though iconic car wash scene.Worth multiple viewings.
Very well-made with sense of graphic imagery and cinema view... (by Nazi_Fighter_David)
The rebel character in Hollywood after the death of James Dean went through a period of transition and did not gain definite new characteristics until the late sixties...The three established rebel/anti-heroes in movies were Paul Newman, Warren Beatty, and Steve McQueen...In 1967, screen audiences were exposed to two new rebel hero characters, Clyde Barrow, a rebel without a cause with enough guts to strike out against any bank, and Luke Jackson, an anti-hero 'born to lose,' but a man full of pride and dignity..."Cool Hand Luke" resumes Newman's career as another rebel, <more>
a non-conformist, a perfect hero who beats the system wherever...Superbly directed by Stuart Rosenberg, Newman exhibits a complete arrangement of emotions invading every nuance and implication... Resources of his true command of his technical acting are breathtaking in their impact... The motion picture nominated for 4 Academy Awards won him his 4th Academy Award nomination... Newman is again a cynical loner, but he's also charming, and everything is calculated to involve us with him; like "Hombre," the film begins and ends with closeups of his face, but here, appropriately, he has an engaging smile The opening, where he drinks beer, unscrews tops from parking meters and mumbles to the arriving cop, recalls Dean's drunken incoherence at the start of "Rebel Without a Cause"an apt title for Luke He breaks rules for no apparent reason, wherever he is, including the chain gang to which he's sentenced Unlike Paul Muni in "I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang," who steals only to eat and is turned by society into a hardened criminal, Luke is a criminal from the start, and his crime isn't motivated by hunger It's a meaningless anti-authority gesturethe existentialist "gratuitous act," committed purely for the sake of committing it Luke engages our sympathy not because he is economically deprived or the product of an unhappy home, but because for him the act of rebellion is its own justification: he's the perfect sixties hero Initially, Luke alienates the prisoners by his indifference and sarcasm, and the top dog, Dragline George Kennedy picks a fight with him Luke is severely beaten but keeps fighting, and thisplus his continual defiance of the guardswins him the men's respect Their admiration grows when he proves he can eat 50 hard-boiled eggs, one after the other, in only one hour, another gratuitous act "somethin' to do" . But Luke gradually becomes a victim of the excessive admiration, rebelling because they expect him to, which leads to a pattern of escapes and captures As the warden says, "What we got here is a failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach." Even though Luke becomes subservient after torture, he again escapes Dragline admires the way he fooled the guards while planning all along to escape But Luke says he really did break down, and asserts: "l never planned anything in my life." Even his last act is motivated not by heroism but by impulse The physical punishment Newman's characters often undergo reaches an extreme here, as Luke constantly invites pain in his fight with Dragline, he says, "You're gonna have to kill me." . Underlying his sometimes vigorous rebelliousness is despair at a cruelly indifferent world But the men need a hero, and Dragline perpetuates the myth, telling them that he had "that Luke smile" to the very end We last see a montage of shots of Luke smilingthe men's vision of him as unbeaten and almost immortal Newman's performance is among his best, and Luke is one of his definitive studies of non conformism As in "Hombre," he underplays, but in a loose, relaxed, "cool" manner He's affecting in a wide range of moods: quiet detachment, wry contempt, raw courage, exhaustion, exuberance, gentleness, anger, resignation There's a superb1y understated scene in which Luke's dying mother Jo Van Fleet visits him Like Rocky Graziano, he says he tried to live cleanly, but could never find a way But the mood is quite different here: instead of intense emotion, there are on1y ingenious expressions of uneasiness, regret, sadness, acceptance Newman conveys his unspoken affection entirely through his glances and reactions, as she wistfully remarks that she once had high hopes for him The actor even survives the film's pretentious attempts to make him a mock-Christ figure Besides the obvious sacrifice-resurrection parallel, he's even shown in the exact crucifixion position following his fifty-egg Last Supper? ordeal There are two badly conceived dialogs with a God he doesn't believe inafter which he realizes, "l gotta find my own way," a rather unconcealed statement of existential despairbut Newman performs them with quiet conviction . His mock religion is better suggested by the bottle opener he wears in lieu of a religious medal And the despair is effectively dramatized in his reaction to his mother's death The men leave him by himself, and he sits on his bed, playing the banjo With a sad, breaking voice, he sings a religious parody: "l don't care if it rains or freezes, long as 1 got my plastic Jesus " He looks down and begins crying, but sings faster, obsessively, withdrawing into himself and expressing his utter loneliness in a world that has no God It's one of the most moving scenes in all of Newman's work Paralleled to "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "Cool Hand Luke" is a character study, which works beautifully, very well-made with sense of graphic imagery and cinema view, a good-looking film with superb photography in Color, extremely good as an entertainment...
a classic anti-hero and a near-great Hollywood prison movie of the 1960s (by Quinoa1984)
I read another comment on here that said that this and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest are two films which are pretty much identical. While I was watching Cool Hand Luke I did recollect the other classic to me still much more extraordinary guys-locked-up movie Cuckoo's Nest, as it did have its hero knocking an authority as tough as a ton on bricks. But there's a big difference between the two films- in Cuckoo's Nest, you had in Nicholson a rebel-rouser who didn't mind getting some real words across to people with his plight, and the people he was locked up with are <more>
actually, to a basic degree, sane. Newman is, much as the title suggests, 'cool', as he really doesn't have that much dialog for most of the picture, and the system he's bucking isn't supposed to be "helping" him and the people he's with. They're there on the chain gang to bust ass and do the work that nobody in their right mind would do unless pointed by a gun to do so. Though on the other hand, this dynamic from Newman, amid a very good prison movie, still makes Cool Hand Luke quite memorable for its ways of bucking the system.It's also by turns an often funny movie, with the centerpiece of the 50 egg bet being one that is just sheerly, unabashedly entertaining. And it's the kind of scene that does almost remind someone of that scene in Cuckoo's Nest where they all get riled up during the 'baseball game' on TV. But sometimes the filmmakers doing Cool Hand Luke do perhaps push a wee bit much allegory on such a simple set of events, less a story, than necessary. At the end of the 50 egg sequence, Newman is basically laid out on the table- and I'm sure it's meant to be intentional- in the form of Christ. This is played up for a lot of the rest of the film, as it's perhaps really intuited that he's suffering for the other prisoner's sins, and may even perhaps someday die for it all. This side ends up becoming a little preachy, even if its meant to be subtle, which I don't think it is, and it detracts from the greater pleasures of watching a picture like this.Because really, aside from the allegory, this is just good old prison picture, and one that pushes the boundaries of the prisoner-escape angle, such as that Newman's Luke escapes for the whole second half of the movie! It's also kind of bittersweet that the filmmakers decide not to show how Newman gets captured, but leaves it at first on the prisoners- who after getting beaten up by Oscar winning George Kennedy's rily character, and getting them to fix a road like its some competition- and then just suddenly he's caught again. At one point this even leads to the now classic line, once sampled in a Guns n Roses song, "what we've got here is failure to communicate" by the always great character actor Strother Martin. Though if you're not really looking for message or allegory, it's also just a really neat 'guy' movie, in the best sense of the word, with scenes like the torturous girl-washes-car-in-front-of-chain-gang scene, and of course ones that just show them acting like real guys. It's populated by a plethora of acting talent, with Kennedy, Dennis Hopper, Luke Askew, and even a guitar strumming/singing Harry Dean Stanton! Which is a hoot if you've seen as mant Stanton films as me .And then finally there's Newman himself, definitely in one of his seminal roles even if it's not a full-on total masterwork. Here he actually does create a character out of someone who is really sort of a nobody with no real aims. He doesn't even know what do to when he breaks out of prison, even as he gets as far as Chicago. "I never planned anything in my life", he says at one point. That the character only has maybe 15 lines in the film isn't a problem for Newman either. He makes such a thin character, ultimately, likable and strong, and fulfills such an anti-hero very believably, especially when he's most needed to put up his acting chops towards the end of the picture. Even if you're not too much into prison movies- and this one does have in it the kind of spirit that speaks back to the films of the 30s in a good way for the old-school fans - it's worth it just to see what Newman does, alongside the other actors. It also holds up pretty well decades later, which is a credit not just to Newman but to the screenwriters and director Stuart Rosenberg, probably the highlight of an otherwise journeyman filmmaker career.
This film is set in America's Deep South in the years after the Second World War. Luke Jackson, a down-on-his-luck war veteran, is arrested for vandalising parking meters while drunk and sentenced to imprisonment in a brutally tough prison. At first his offhand, seemingly arrogant, attitude alienates not only the prison governor and guards but also his fellow-prisoners, and he is soon challenged to a fight by another inmate named Dragline. The tall, powerfully built Dragline is an easy victor, but Luke's determination and fighting spirit, never knowing when he is beaten and refusing <more>
to quit, arouse the respect of the others, especially Dragline who becomes his close friend. Luke becomes a hero to the prisoners because they see him as a rebel who refuses to be beaten by the system. His nickname stems from the cool way in which he plays a hand at poker, but it also refers to his remaining cool in the face of persecution . Luke makes two escape attempts, but on both occasions he is recaptured and brought back to the prison for punishment by the guards who are determined to break his spirit. It seems that they have succeeded, but then Luke and Dragnet make one last break for freedom.On one level this film is a critique of the inhumanity of the American prison system, part of a tradition going back to "I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang" and continuing more recently with "Brubaker" also directed by Stuart Rosenberg and the less successful "The Last Castle". The regime in this jail is particularly inhuman. The prisoners are put to work all day digging ditches in the hot sun. It is never made clear whether the ditches need to be dug and the prisoners are a useful source of free labour, or whether putting them to demeaning and useless work is seen as a means of keeping them under control and of giving vent to the sadistic impulses of their jailers . There is a long list of petty regulations, breach of which is punished by "a night in the box", a tiny cell used for solitary confinement. The guards take a perverse delight in tormenting and humiliating the prisoners. Strother Martin's governor who prefers to be called "the Captain" is a particularly frightening figure, a little man with a grating, high-pitched voice who can even make a piece of bland management-speak like "What we have here is a failure to communicate" sound like a terrifying threat.The film is more, however, than a social-realist exposure of conditions in America's jails. It was made in the sixties, the decade when the times they were a-changing and when traditional concepts of authority were being challenged everywhere. Like a number of films from the sixties and seventies, "Cool Hand Luke" reflects this popular mood. The film with which it has most in common is "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" in which Jack Nicholson does for mental asylums what Paul Newman does here for prisons. Newman's screen persona was often that of the cool, detached outsider. This may have had the effect of narrowing his range as an actor somewhat- he could often seem too laid back in more traditional types of film, such as Hitchcock's "Torn Curtain"- but it meant that he could be excellent playing anti-heroes in films of this nature. "Hombre" is another example . Here, in one of his best performances, he makes Luke a symbol of the little man standing up against authority. We learn that he was a hero in the war and was decorated a number of times but that he finished the war as a private after being demoted from sergeant. The implication is that military discipline was as uncongenial to him as prison discipline and that he lost his rank for some act of insubordination. Even his crime can be seen as a protest against the petty tyranny of rules and regulations of which parking meters are a symbol.There has been speculation about the possible religious implications of the film and whether Luke is intended to be a Christ-figure. Certainly, the shot in which he is seen in a crucifix-like pose after the egg-eating contest is derived from standard Christian imagery, but in my view this is not a deliberate Christian allegory along the lines of "Whistle Down the Wind" or "The Omega Man". In orthodox Christian thought, Christ is much more than a rebel against authority or even a man unjustly persecuted; he is also the Son of God and the Redeemer of mankind. One scene does not an allegory make. Nevertheless, there are undoubted religious overtones to the film. If Luke is an allegorical figure, the allegory is not with Christ but with Everyman, a man in search sometimes a despairing search of God. He claims not to believe in God, yet has long conversations with Him. The song he sings after the death of his mother is irreverent, possibly blasphemous, but blasphemy is the sin of the angry believer, not of the unbeliever. A true atheist cannot blaspheme, because there is nothing for him to blaspheme against.Newman was nominated for "Best Actor" and George Kennedy won a well-deserved "Best Supporting Actor" for his portrayal of Dragline, but I was surprised that the film was not nominated as "Best Picture", especially as the nominations in 1968 included a film as weak as "Dr Doolittle". Whatever the Academy may have thought, however, "Cool Hand Luke" is a film that has matured well. It is a multi-layered film that works well on each of its several levels of meaning. With "I am a Fugitive ." and "The Birdman of Alcatraz", it is one of the greatest of all prison dramas. This was Stuart Rosenberg's first feature film, but like Orson Welles "Citizen Kane" , Sidney Lumet "Twelve Angry Men" and Bryan Forbes "Whistle Down the Wind" he made a great film on his first attempt. 9/10
Truly a memorable movie, and more than just a documentary about southern road gangs. It's a study on the theme of the indomitability of the human spirit in the face of oppression. I was about to name this as Newman's finest performance until I thought of Eddy Felsen in "The Hustler" and Frank Galvin in "The Verdict"; it's impossible to choose among such a cornucopia of acting achievements, but Luke is right up there the analogy to Luke as Christ becomes a tad heavy-handed when we see him, at the close of the egg-eating scene, stretched out, arms outward, feet <more>
crossed, as if crucified; none the less, it's a powerful image . There is no doubt, however, about George Kennedy as Dragline; it is his finest achievement, and fully deserves the Oscar he got for Best Supporting Actor. It is also fascinating to find so many familiar faces among the inmates - actors such as Dennis Hopper, Harry Dean Stanton, Joe Don Baker, Ralph Waite. and Wayne Rogers - who would go on to fame in their own right. This movie can unquestionably be called a classic. American Movie Classics just started 11/2000 showing a beautifully restored letterbox version which shows it in all its glory.
The 'Anti-Hero' Emerges In Hollywood (by ccthemovieman-1)
Perhaps one of the last of the chain-gang movies until it was briefly shown in the beginning of 2000's "O, Brother Where Art Thou? , this has always been 1 an interesting film 2 a wonderfully photographed movie.You hear more about the story and about Paul Newman than you usually hear about the cinematography, but it's good and this movie should be seen in widescreen. It was offered as such even on VHS.When I looked at this film sometime in the '90s, I was surprised that the famous line from it: "What we have here is a failure to communicate," was only used <more>
twice, and the second time being the last sentence uttered by Newman. I had thought that Strother Martin had said it several times. Boy, Martin was one of the more effective villains in some 1960s film, a mean-talking sadistic guy.This movie was another of the pioneers in promoting a new thing on screen: the "anti-hero," so it was popular in the protest decade of the '60s. Newman's character fit right into the period where the rebel is the hero and the authority figure is the bad guy. You've seen this repeatedly ever since, although filmmakers have always loved rebels.George Kennedy gives Newman memorable support as "Dragline" and was aptly awarded for his performance. Someone who I always remembered was the prison guard who said nothing, just stared through his sunglasses. I can always picture that guy and those reflective glasses. That, and eating 50 hard- boiled eggs have stuck with me for over 40 years!
"He's A Rebel And He'll Never Never Be Any Good" (by bkoganbing)
In Cool Hand Luke Paul Newman shows us what the underside of what life is like as a rebel. Picture James Dean doing this part had he lived to do films like these.Newman plays his usual non-conformist rebel type, but he's really a rebel without a cause. He's in his early forties, a Korean war veteran who just hasn't found his place in civilian life. He gets himself busted for no great cause, just on a drunken spree in some Southern town he decides to knock the heads off a bunch of parking meters.That lands him a stint in a county jail with a lot of outdoor work on a road gang. He <more>
fights with, but later wins the respect and becomes friends with George Kennedy the head honcho in his barracks.The real tragedy of Cool Hand Luke is that Newman is a failure in life, it's why he's in prison. He gains the respect of his fellow convicts for those ways, but that involves going against the penal system and in the end that gets you nothing. Can you picture James Dean as a forty something doing what Newman is doing? It would have been his kind of role for sure.Newman does a fine job playing the non-conformist Luke who seems to be just going on the path fate has decreed for him. George Kennedy got his Oscar winning career role as Dragline. Other men in Luke's barracks are Wayne Rogers, Robert Drivas, and J.D. Cannon and they fill their roles well.Strother Martin as the warden of the place is the guy with the film's favorite line, "what we've got is failure to communicate." Martin and his correction officers have many interesting ways of getting their point across.Cool Hand Luke may very well be the saddest role Newman ever undertook in his long career.