125 Min. | Crime – Drama | November 1967
IMDB Rating: 8.2
Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Starring: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin
Cool Hand Luke Review
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 is “Small Town, not much to do in the evening”, which would have us believe he was just being drunk and stupid.
Another principal character is Dragline. 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 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. 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.
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.
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