Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: Get 12 Issues For £25
Buy the perfect Christmas present this year
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Paul Newman
George Kennedy
Jo Van Fleet.
Directors
Stuart Rosenberg.
Screenwriters
Don Pearce
Frank R Pierson.
Running Time
126 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Annie
2 Star Empire Rating
Theory Of Everything, The
4 Star Empire Rating
Bringing Tibet Home
3 Star Empire Rating
Kon-Tiki
4 Star Empire Rating
Enemy
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
5 Star Empire Rating
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
Nightcrawler
5 Star Empire Rating
Babadook, The
5 Star Empire Rating

Cool Hand Luke
An energetic inmate inspires his fellow inmates to rebel against the guards.


submit to reddit


Plot
After merely destroying parking meters, Paul Newman gets sent to prison where he becomes an inspiration to the other prisoners by refusing to let the guards get the better of him. Soon he is up in arms against the wardens which leads to a tragic outcome.


Review
A big hit in 1967, this is one of Paul Newman’s most significant films, casting him as a mooncalf vandal whose destructive pre-credits spree — decapitating parking meters — lands him on a prison farm where his uppity, rebellious, downright mule-headed attitude brings him into major league conflict with the guards and makes him a heroic martyr for the other cons.

One of those movies you remember Great Moments from: the egg-eating contest, warden Strother Martin complaining “what we got here is a failure to communicate”, George Kennedy winning an Academy Award as the toughest con who plays St Peter to Newman’s Jesus, the Evil Guard in Mirror Sunglasses, the card game that gets out of hand. Like One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (which has the same plot), this is simultaneously a damn fine prison movie with all the clichés lovingly in place and a comic allegory of redemption in America. Fans of sweaty redneck character actors get a treat, what with J.D. Cannon, Anthony Zerbe, Joe Don Baker, Harry Dean Stanton, Dennis Hopper and Morgan Woodward in the same film.


Verdict
Paul Newman gives one of his best performances in this prison film, where he inspires life in to his fellow inmates and although the similarities to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest don't stop there, it still has something important to say, with several memorable moments and a superb supporting cast.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Cool Hand Luke
Empire Star Rating

Cool cool cool

Probably the quintessential prison picture with Newman as the iconic Luke, intent on trying to escape from the chain gang at every opportunity. Beautifully lensed by the wonderful Conrad L. Hall, and with a superb cast of great character actors, this is as near to perfect as you could hope for. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RJNeb2 at 11:08, 01 November 2014 | Report This Post


the most overlooked masterpeice in movie history - my favourite movie of all timee undeniably ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nesta37 at 23:42, 30 May 2009 | Report This Post


the most overlooked masterpeice in movie history - my favourite movie of all timee undeniably ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nesta37 at 23:42, 30 May 2009 | Report This Post


The Legend Paul Newman gives an outstanding performance in this excellent prison drama. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by beneb at 18:58, 15 December 2008 | Report This Post


One of Newman's most memorable performances. Excellent work. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mingusman at 19:32, 19 March 2006 | Report This Post


SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 69% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire's Three Favourite Scenes Of 2014
A hat-trick of moneyshots from the last 12 months

The 32 Funniest Movie Moments Of The Year
2014's side-splittingest scenes

The 10 Best Games Of The Year
2014's top pixel-pushers duke it out for the number one slot

Dan Stevens: The Breakout Star Of 2014
We congratulate The Guest star on his year to remember

The 15 Most Memorable Character Deaths Of The Year
2014’s RIP honour roll

Watch: Night At The Museum's Cast Share Their Favourite Robin Williams Performance
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Ben Kingsley pay tribute to the actor

Watch: Jack O'Connell And Luke Treadaway Talk Unbroken
On POWs, panto and how to name your bomber

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)