It’s all true: fantastic one-liners, that excruciating but exultant egg-eating scene, the menacing brute of a chain-gang boss. This bizarre tale–an allegory about this rakish rebel’s resistance to the System and, by extension, his relationship with God–is a vintage Paul Newman vehicle. George Kennedy is a hoot too. For all its charms, Stuart Rosenberg’s depiction of chain gang life, at the end of the day, seems kind of fun, doesn’t it? All the poker playing, the fun ‘n’ games, the jokes, and the silly antics among the prisoners almost romanticize the milieu. Keep in mind that Cool Hand Luke isn’t a social-realist parable (à la I’m a Fugitive from a Chain Gang), and, like me, you’ll roll with it and enjoy yourselves. Legend Conrad Hall provides rightfully vivid, awesome cinematography, full of frosty bunkhouse light bulbs and the lonely pallor of the Southern twilight. Overall, gorgeous looking and terrifically acted.
Directed by: Stuart Rosenberg
Written by: Donn Pearce, Frank Pierson
Cast: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, J.D. Cannon, Strother Martin, Jo Van Fleet