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Cool Hand Luke (1967)

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Cool Hand Luke (1967) - 6/9/2013 12:51:15 AM   


Posts: 18
Joined: 30/10/2011
my shit review of 'Cool Hand Luke'

Taking a stroll down condiment avenue in your local food store you will no doubt come across the beaming face of actor/philanthropist Paul Newman on the front of his ‘Newman’s own’ salad dressings. That same winning smile is seen many times over as Newman plays Luke in this riveting prison drama. Released in 1967 and based on Dan Pearce’s novel of the same name, ‘Cool Hand Luke’ sees loose cannon and war vet Luke end up in prison over a spot of drunken criminal damage. Nailed with a two year stretch, Luke is pressurized to conform to a regime of hard labour by vicious wardens such as the Captain (Strother Martin) and alpha con Dragline (George Kennedy).

Luke is not so easily broken and before long – and much to the dismay of the guards- he wins the respect of Dragline and the rest of the inmates through his resilient attitude. Encouraging his fellow convicts to excel in their menial tasks, displaying great courage in a boxing match and eating FIFTY boiled eggs in an hour for a bet, Luke becomes the prisoners’ champion. Despite this our hero is not content with his current state of affairs and yearns to defy authority and escape.
This film is a true slow burner as the repetitive and hopeless nature of prison life is shown reinforced. Luke and the other convicts toil daily in the sweltering Florida heat and fritter away their meagre allowance on card games. This atmosphere remains consistent as Stuart Rosenburg conducts every scene in essentially the same three locations; the prison house, the prison yard and the barren dirt roads surrounding it.

Desperation felt by the inmates and their need to liven up the monotony reaches breaking point when one day the chain gang watch a scantily clad farm girl wash her car. Every shot evokes their burning desire as they stare in excruciation from the road side. Filming of this sultry scene was scheduled for a single morning but somehow stretched on for three days. How unfortunate…
Great pains are taken to portray the penal system, and hard labour in particular, as ineffective. One prison official, ‘the man with no eyes’(Morgan Woodward) as the cons have named him, says nothing for the entirety but there are a number of close ups of the reflection in his sunglasses, which he always wears. His remorseless nature is like a conglomeration of the other guards and officials and he represents the inhumanity of the ‘justice system’ which places punishment and suffering above all else.

Paul Newman’s character development in Luke is spot on. His charisma is beyond reckoning and at time it feels as though he shares many of the sentiments of the troubled man he is portraying. Excellent acting can be seen amongst the supporting cast too. Multiple viewings are necessary in order to appreciate the subtleties of the minor characters in and around the prison.
An excellent story well told and directed with skill, this is a truly fantastic prison drama - tragic and uplifting in equal measure. One hopes that Luke would approve of Newman’s salad dressings; the company donates all profits to charity- over $370 million since 1982- and it certainly embodies his individual nature and free spirit.

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