Wyoming, early 1900s. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid are the leaders of a band of outlaws. After a train robbery goes wrong they find themselves on the run with a posse hard on their heels. Their solution - escape to Bolivia.
George Roy Hill
After settling his differences with a Japanese P.O.W. 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
Paul Newman enjoyed making the film, and when he wasn't needed on-set, often tooled around the Stockton area either in a blue Mercury convertible or on a motorcycle. "I had great fun with that part", he said. "I liked that man." See more »
Dog Boy fills Luke's plate with more food than Luke can eat, saying gleefully that Luke will be punished for not cleaning his plate by spending the night in the box. However, as punishment for his escape attempts, Luke is already being made to spend every night in the box. See more »
[Luke wins a poker hand on a bluff]
Nothin'! A handful of nothin'. You stupid mullet head, he beat you with nothin', just like today when he kept comin' back at me, with nothin'.
Yeah, well... sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
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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.
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