Cool Hand Luke (1967) / Drama
MPAA Rated: PG for brief nudity, some violence, and mild language
Running Time: 126 min.
Cast: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, J.D. Cannon, Strother Martin, Jo Van Fleet
Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Screenplay: Donn Pearce (based on his novel), Frank Pierson
Review published March 24, 1998
Paul Newman (Torn Curtain, Hud) stars as Luke, a man who one day cuts off the heads of some parking meters and is sent to a prison camp for two years. He doesn't quite fit in among his peers, but gains their respect by sticking up for himself. After gaining the respect off his fellow inmates, he bucks the system and upsets his captors, who take their job in breaking his resolve very seriously.
Cool Hand Luke is a brilliantly directed and compelling story of a man trying to find his individuality in a system designed for conformity. The film features great acting and a thoughtful presentation, although all things considered, Kennedy (Charade, The Eiger Sanction) probably didn't deserve his Oscar for his supporting role. The plot may seem simple on the surface, but it's actually subtly complex and absorbing entertainment which speaks volumes, not only about the state of the reform system, but also is an allegory of the tumultuous times regarding self-expression it was made in.
Cool Hand Luke is recommended for fans of Newman, fans of 60s films, and those into gripping prison films with inspiration. A bonafide classic, and deservedly so.
©1998 Vince Leo