A laid back Southern man is sentenced to two years in a rural prison, but refuses to conform.A laid back Southern man is sentenced to two years in a rural prison, but refuses to conform.A laid back Southern man is sentenced to two years in a rural prison, but refuses to conform.
A classic that became a big part of my life
I first saw "Cool Hand Luke" the first week it came out. Went to see it with my father at a theater on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. We were just a few blocks away from the hospital where my Mom was dying of cancer and we just needed a break. It was cathartic. Feeling as beat up and left for dead as I was at the time, I came across a character who knew how to take the punches. "Luke" is a beautifully crafted film. Not one wasted frame or moment. Donn Pearce and Frank Pierson's screenplay is nothing less than a working man's parable of a truly good soul who just couldn't seem to get a break. In ways, it could be said he truly didn't let himself. But the strength within Luke that would not let him compromise who he was for who he was told to be, the resilience to fight back against those who tried to fight him on that was inspirational. Whether it was a carefully chosen remark or just one of them Luke looks, They knew They couldn't knock him out no matter how badly They knocked him down. Seems he handled life like that, and it was an example I've clung to and have tried to follow in the almost fifty subsequent years. Conrad Hall's cinematography was breathtaking, providing the scope of all the integral parts of the story with the immediacy of all the most intimate moments. Any single frame could hang on your living room wall as the centerpiece. The cast: Dennis Hopper, Strother Martin, Lou Antonio, Ralph Waite ... and George Kennedy. Academy Award Winner George Kennedy. "Dragline". The most unforgettable "gentle giant" I believe I've ever seen on the silver screen. Each and every one of them, in all their glory and in the simplest of nuances, helped raise Paul Newman's masterful portrayal to an ever higher level, maybe his best work ever. The character is very much the story in "Cool Hand Luke" and the ensemble brings it to life. Frustrating, challenging, confusing, pain- in-the-ass life with just enough of that rebellious spirit to bring hope to those facing some of their tougher times. I saw the film four more times that first year, and probably twice each year since whenever I could find it. Check in with Luke and the boys for a breath of fresh air and some world-shaking hope. Can't speak for anyone else, but Luke is right up there with Atticus Finch for me when it comes to celluloid heroes, these are the two whose stories got me through some really, really bleak times. And for me, "Cool Hand Luke" was ultimately a story of hope. The story of a man who never gave in. Never gave up. And never stopped grinning. All that they piled on him, all they tried to bury him under ... just wasn't worth his getting worked up over. Wasn't gonna get to his spirit.
- Apr 15, 2016
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