the Thinking Chicks Guide to Movies

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Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Reviewed on 2011 January 22

I once worked with a guy that would always say “what we’ve got here…is failure to communicate” whenever our boss did something particularly irritating. I finally got to sit down and watch the movie and now I get the cultural reference, in addition to what my friend was trying to tell me without us both getting dragged to his back office, a.k.a. “The House of Pain”. That phrase covers a multitude of sins, but this movie is one of a kind.

Lucas Jackson, or Luke (Paul Newman) is a war veteran who winds up in a southern pokey run by a tyrannical despot (Strother Martin) and his second in command, Boss Godfrey (Morgan Woodward), the one the convicts call The Man with No Eyes. We don’t know much about his background, but Luke soon earns the admiration of Dragline (George Kennedy), the head convict in the chain gang, and the others follow suit. The men running the chain gang decide that Luke is dangerous and must be broken.

Kennedy took home the Best Supporting Actor Oscar® in a year of amazing movies and the rest of the cast kept up. The egg sequence is classic, and shows the stupid stuff men do when they’re bored (if you want to see stupid stuff we gals do, watch Lifetime), but I think the little details make this a classic as much as the other good things I can say about it. I love the captain’s dry, nasal, condescending voice, as he delivers his canned “it’s all up to you” speech and No Eyes didn’t have to open his mouth to be unnerving. Newman made Luke cynical without being cold and it was funny how he was the only one who could see “Lucille” for the little sadist she was. You get to hear Harry Dean Stanton sing and he’s pretty good too. My only complaint (or actually, Mr. Shukti’s complaint) is that every time I watch this I want a pet bloodhound.

Four chocolate morsels.


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