#150: Cool Hand Luke (1967)

When and how did I watch this?

January 23rd, 2016, on Amazon Instant Video.

Had I seen this film already?

Yes, though I don’t remember when. It’s been several years.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

It’s a hilarious film featuring a series of shenanigans pulled by Luke (Newman) on a chain gang. I didn’t remember the circumstances of his incarceration, but I remembered the stunts he performed, and Dragline’s (Kennedy) admiration for Luke’s bull-headedness.

What do I know about it now?

To start, it’s slower than I remember.  I also didn’t realize Luke’s term was only two years, surely extended by his escape attempts and general defiance. This apathy wasn’t well defined when I watched it previously, but in a somewhat lengthy exchange with his mother during a visitation day, Luke’s background gave his character a little more depth. I was more sympathetic of Luke’s escape after his mother’s death, something I misunderstood last viewing.  I think what makes this film stand out is the score and the character development, along with the general attitude of defiance that resonated with the late 1960s. A regular comedy film wouldn’t really fly on this list, but the elements of greatness are present in this film.


What are some themes in the film?

Authority, loyalty, respect, indifference, chain gang, leadership, rebellion

Did this affect me personally?

Besides getting several belly laughs out of it, the tension involved in the fight with Dragline, the church scene at the climax, and Newman’s numerous facial expressions in his portrayal all stood out.

Why is this ranked #150?

It’s a 60s cinema icon, nominated for a handful of Oscars. The film itself is unique — I still haven’t seen one like it, though pop culture makes references to it on numerous occasions. I know that Life with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence drew some material from it, but it’s not nearly as effective as Cool Hand Luke.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She thought it was interesting, but once again, this is a dude movie.

Would I watch it again?


Would I recommend it to a friend?

This is a fun movie to watch with a group of friends.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

Yeah.  I’m not sure if it’s ranked correctly, but Newman and Kennedy are definitely memorable in this film, and again, there are none like it.  It’s not nearly as moving as prior movies, but for me, the humor and general character development put his film on a different level than its genre’s peers.

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