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Cool Hand Luke (1967)

 -  Crime | Drama  -  1 November 1967 (USA)
8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 97,522 users  
Reviews: 252 user | 92 critic

A man refuses to conform to life in a rural prison.

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Cool Hand Luke (1967) on IMDb 8.2/10

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Top 250 #149 | Won 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Storyline

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. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

prison | prisoner | escape | guts | chain | See All (136) »

Taglines:

The man...and the motion picture that simply do not conform. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 November 1967 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La leyenda del indomable  »

Filming Locations:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Luke is seen as sort of a Savior by the other convicts, as he gives them hope. After the egg-eating contest, he is laid out on the table in a posture resembling the Crucifixion. See more »

Goofs

When the Walking Boss shoots the snake, it appears to be a western diamondback rattler. This species is not found in the deep south where the film takes place. See more »

Quotes

Luke: Oh come on. Stop beatin' it. Get out there yourself. Stop feedin' off me. Get out of here. I can't breathe. Give me some air.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in NCIS: Frame Up (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Midnight Special
Written by Howard Washington Odum
Performed by Harry Dean Stanton
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Before "Shawshank" there was "Cool Hand Luke"
7 June 2012 | by (IL, USA) – See all my reviews

Here's a thought: would "The Shawshank Redemption" have ever happened without "Cool Hand Luke?" Both films examine prison life in a tall-tale sort of way. Heroes of questionable morality perform valiant acts in defiance of cold and rigid prison wardens and life is at its most fragile, balancing between the joy needed to stay alive and rock-bottom depression.

However you choose to compare the films, there's no doubt both are on greatest film lists. "Cool Hand Luke" simply has the distinction of being first.

Paul Newman's Oscar-nominated performance is one of his very best, or at least one of my favorites to this point. I have not seen "The Color of Money," but I have little doubt that Oscar was rewarded to him for having been screwed over so many times.

As Dragline (George Kennedy, who won an Oscar) so perfectly points out in his ending monologue voiced over a montage of Luke, Newman's smile alone makes Luke such a magnetic character. There's always a sense that he knows something you don't, that he has mastered some secret of life that makes him impervious to hardship. His tacit contempt for authority makes him much more likable than your typical anti-hero (if he can even be considered one), and it also primes us for his few dramatic scenes, which are soft but moving.

Lucas Jackson is an honored war vet who is thrown somewhat needlessly into a prison work camp in the south after beheading parking meters while drunk. Compared to the crimes of some of the others, it's a bad deal. Luke quickly falls out of favor with the prison guards with his subtle defiance, and it takes him some time before he's initiated with his fellow inmates.

There are so many memorable scenes in the film because the most pivotal moments are also the most visually appealing. Director Stuart Rosenberg and writer Frank Pierson appear to be on the same page in really emphasizing scenes such as the "Lucille" scene in which a local woman erotically washes a car as the men look on from their work post, the subsequent boxing fight between Luke and Dragline and the egg-eating scene.

Prior to Luke trying to escape after "getting some rabbit in his blood" when a personal tragedy befalls him, the plot doesn't have a whole lot of places to go, so the scenes become entirely about character development, which pays off for the rest of the film. The escape attempts have an underlying strength because of the entertaining first act or so.

The sense of camaraderie amongst the inmates is another thing you can't help but take notice of. Sometimes scenes are designed that way, but even when the focus is elsewhere, the extras and supporting actors are enhancing the environment, creating a mood for the film, one that expresses how caught in a bubble they are and gives you the sense of how prisoners will insist on life even in rough conditions.

"Cool Hand Luke" eventually evolves into a story of leadership, the qualities that make a man great, or "an original" as Dragline says. Luke becomes an inspiration for his inmates through his attitude and his actions, though more an ideal to aspire to as opposed to a role model to emulate. Newman's performance hammers that home as truth for the audience too, which makes "Cool Hand Luke" a classic.

~Steven C

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