After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.
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
In a 1989 interview with the Miami Herald, the author of this movie's source novel, Donn Pearce, said, "I seem to be the only guy in the United States who doesn't like the movie. Everyone had a whack at it. They screwed it up 99 different ways." For one thing, Pearce thought Paul Newman was "too scrawny" and completely wrong for the part. See more »
The Korean War took place from June 5, 1950 to July 27, 1953. The time period of the movie "Cool Hand Luke" therefore could not have been in the late 1940's, approximately c1949 as indicated in IMDb Anachronisms. See more »
Now, I can be a good guy, or I can be one real mean sum-bitch.
See more »
Set in the rural south, a man serves time on a chain gang after vandalising parking meters. When inside, he stubbornly refuses to bow down to anybody, be it the prison authorities or his fellow inmates. Soon, though, he becomes a symbol of hope to the other prisoners and his rebellious nature teaches them that their integrity is the most important thing they have.
This anti-authoritarian film is very much in a similar mould to Bonnie and Clyde which also came out in 1967. In both of these films the establishment are shown to be the bad guys and the criminals anti-heroes deserving of our sympathy. With this in mind it would only be fair to say that, like Bonnie and Clyde, Cool Hand Luke could be regarded as one of the very first New Hollywood movies. It certainly is a film which indicates that the cinematic norms were changing. It's also one of the first of a new type of prison drama which tried to reach for more authenticity. In many ways it is a precursor to the classic incarcerated-man-against-the-system movie One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). For me, it's not in the same league as that one but it's pretty obviously a very influential work. It benefits from a good ensemble cast, with Paul Newman leading the picture very well, with impressive support in particular from George Kennedy who would go on to win an Oscar for his efforts.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?