"Cool Hand Luke" Is Released
Cool Hand Luke is a 1967 American drama film starring Paul Newman and directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
The screenplay was adapted by Donn Pearce and Frank Pierson from the novel by Pearce. The film features George Kennedy, Strother Martin, J.D. Cannon, and Morgan Woodward.
Newman stars in the title role as Luke, a prisoner in a Florida prison camp who refuses to submit to the system. His inability to conform drives the plot of the movie, in the same vein as characters such as Winston Smith from Nineteen Eighty-Four, Randle McMurphy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Number Six from the British television series The Prisoner (aired during the same year) and Jake Holman in The Sand Pebbles.
In 2005, the United States Library of Congress deemed Cool Hand Luke to be "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
Paul Newman was nominated for an Oscar and George Kennedy received one for his work in this allegorical prison drama. Luke Jackson (Paul Newman) is sentenced to a stretch on a southern chain gang after he's arrested for drunkenly decapitating parking meters. While the avowed ambition of the captain (Strother Martin) is for each prisoner to "get their mind right," it soon becomes obvious that Luke is not about to kowtow to anybody. When challenged to a fistfight by fellow inmate Dragline (George Kennedy), Luke simply refuses to give up, even though he's brutally beaten. Luke knows how to win at poker, even with bad cards, by using his smarts and playing it cool. Luke also figures out a way for the men to get their work done in half the usual time, giving them the afternoon off. Finally, when Luke finds out his mother has died, he plots his escape; when he's caught, he simply escapes again. Soon, Luke becomes a symbol of hope and resilience to the other men in the prison camp -- and a symbol of rebelliousness that must be stamped out to the guards and the captain. Along with stellar performances by Newman, Kennedy, and Martin, Cool Hand Luke features a superb supporting cast, including Ralph Waite, Harry Dean Stanton, Dennis Hopper, Wayne Rogers, and Joe Don Baker as members of the chain gang. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide