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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
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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

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


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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

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Cool Hand Luke
Empire Star Rating

Cool Hand Luke

A 1960's classic that should be loved by all, solely because it is just such a well-executed, heartfelt drama with Paul Newman at the top of his game as jailbird Luke Jackson. If there ever was a classic prison movie to watch, 'Cool Hand Luke' would be that classic, one of the most versatile and indelible films of the 60s, as well as a fantastic character study. The emotional content sways side to side throughout the plot with Luke going from a happy chappie to a reluctant and melancholy recluse... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by CalumRhys at 23:51, 16 July 2015 | Report This Post


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



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