A Movie A Day: Quint watches COOL HAND LUKE (1967)!
What we have here is a failure to communicate!
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge and plowing through the hundreds of DVDs I own for movies I haven’t seen. Each day I’ll talk about a film I haven’t previously seen and each film will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Today is COOL HAND LUKE, directed by Stuart Rosenberg, written by Frank Pierson and Donn Pearce (from his novel) and starring Paul Newman, George Kennedy and Strother Martin, Harry Dean Stanton, with nearly background appearances by Joe Don Baker and Dennis Hopper.
Yes, the movie lives up to the hype, it deserves its reputation. If you’re one of the few people left on earth who hasn’t seen it, we follow a likable guy… a soldier, returned from service and bored. He cuts the heads off of parking meters while drunk and gets a two year sentence working the chain gang, laboring his offense off.
What a period for Newman. COOL HAND LUKE came a year after previews AMAD title HARPER and two years before BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID. The same fire I saw and loved in HARPER is here… but it’s somehow more internal. Luke isn’t as outgoing as Harper was. He keeps his head down for the first half of the movie until he’s done wrong by the Bosses and then it’s like a switch is flipped. He gives them hell from here on out.
I feel this movie is kin to one of my all time favorites, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST. It’s not just the likable guy trapped by circumstance, either. There’s a tone and flow that I feel both movies share.
The difference in COOL HAND LUKE is that the freedom they lack is flaunted in these guys’ faces every single day on the road. They’re in society, as it were, cutting grass, digging ditches, shoveling dirt… there’s a fantastic scene where the men are slaving away by a farm and the housewife decides to wash her car… knowing damn well what she’s doing to the men.
They can see it, almost live their freedom, but then there’s Blind Dick (called so because he never takes his chrome sunglasses off) there with his rifle, always silently watching.
The film is loaded with iconography, something that’s really important to me in these kinds of films. Newman’s egg-eating contest, the card game that gives the movie its title and our lead his nickname (“Sometimes nothin’s can be a real cool hand.”), Blind Dick with his glaring sunglasses and rifle bolt tucked into his belt and so on.
It’s also loaded with awesome character actors… I’ve loved Strother Martin since I saw UP IN SMOKE as a kid. Of course later there was THE WILD BUNCH and BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID. He gets a great role with great lines, including the most famous line of the flick.
Like most kids my age I was introduced to George Kennedy via the NAKED GUN movies… and I still haven’t seen most of his filmography, but I love him as a personality. He’s a grumpy bastard here, but like the neighborhood dog… he’s all growls until you figure out how to get on his good side (usually involves a McDonalds cheeseburger in my experience) and then is your loyal friend.
The DVD’s fine, but from a dirty print. I hear there’s a Blu-Ray on the way come September. Needless to say I will definitely be picking that up.
The flick’s outstanding and much like RIO BRAVO it’s a joy to watch, not a chore. It never felt like a homework assignment getting through it. I highly recommend it to anyone who might have missed it and recommend revisiting it to those who haven’t seen it for a while.
Coming in the next seven days:
Friday, June 13th: THE ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950)
Saturday, June 14th: CLASH BY NIGHT (1952)
Sunday, June 15th: SCARLET STREET (1945)
Monday, June 16th: KILLER BAIT (aka TOO LATE FOR TEARS) (1949)
Tuesday, June 17th: ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS (1964)
Wednesday, June 18th: CITY FOR CONQUEST (1940)
Thursday, June 19th: SAN QUENTIN (1937)
Tomorrow we change gears over to famous noir THE ASPHALT JUNGLE. This is a bit of a stretch, but Strother Martin makes an uncredited appearance (read extra) in the flick, so that’s our bridge. It’s also one of Marilyn Monroe’s first films. See you folks tomorrow for that!
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June 12, 2008, 11:55 p.m. CST
June 12, 2008, 11:56 p.m. CST
my first post and i get a first! anyway... loved cool hand luke since my dad sat me down and made me watch it when i was 10. glad you've finally seen in quint!
June 12, 2008, 11:59 p.m. CST
I've known that line since 1992 when I heard it on Guns N Roses song "Civil War". I didn't actually see Cool Hand Luke until years later, and I loved it!
June 13, 2008, 12:06 a.m. CST
The boxing match
June 13, 2008, 12:08 a.m. CST
by The Funketeer
It's worth it to see it just so you can say "what we have here is a failure to communicate" and understand where it comes from and why it's so cool. I'll never forget when my friend and I were watching it on video for the first time and my little brother comes in and starts watching it with us and gets sucked in. He gets emotionally invested in his movies. He bawled his eyes out when the ugly fat chick didn't make the team in League of Their Own. Anyway, my stepmother walks in, sees him watching and say, "I just want you to know that...." and ruins the whole ending for us.
June 13, 2008, 12:13 a.m. CST
by The Dum Guy
Everyone should go out and demolish parking meters. It is what some people have died for, namely Cool Hand Luke.
June 13, 2008, 12:31 a.m. CST
by Napoleon Park
is a Failyuh... tuh commume'cate!<p>My dad and I loved that movie and I think we tossed that catch phrase around for years. One of the top lines in movie history. Awesome movie, awesome series of articles. This movie made George Kennedy or at least moved him up a couple of notches the same way Bonnie and Clyde put Gene Hackman on the charts.<p>Say it decades ago, not since, but just reading this review I can picture that surreal opening scene of Luke just strolling drunkenly down the road cutting the heads off of parking meters. Parts of this movie a re buried that deep.<p>So unrelated it's blasphemous to bring it up but a few years ago when I got this computer the first online music video I saw was Jessica Simpson's These Boots Were Made For Walking remake from the Dukes of Hazzard remake. That video, of course, has a sudsy car washing sequence that can't hold a candle to the one in Luke. Of course I was 14 when this came out; when she leans into that window and mushes against it and those men moan - well, only 14 year old boys and men in prison know what it's like to be that horny.
June 13, 2008, 12:31 a.m. CST
by Det. John Kimble
I am depressed.
June 13, 2008, 12:43 a.m. CST
by Read and Shut Up
...and here all those rumors about his cancer. Yeesh. Anyway, this is a great, great, great movie.
June 13, 2008, 12:52 a.m. CST
wtf...turn in your real man card...you also have no more cred as a reviewer...were you aware that the highway repaving scene theme was (and maybe still is) used as the theme for many local news shows? this is the penultimate movie about one mans fight for individuality against the bastard system....it is newman at his finest...i must have seen it 50 times...i dont get how you never saw papillon before...how about all quiet on the western front? how about silent running? how about captain kangaroo....you fookin hack
June 13, 2008, 12:58 a.m. CST
by Stevie Grant
Has a point, Quint. What's next, you watch Hud for the first time?
June 13, 2008, 1:04 a.m. CST
Hell, I have never seen all of "Gone with the Wind" or "Casablanca" or a bunch of those movies. That isn't to say that I haven't seen a LOT of movies, but sometimes, some of these things just don't get seen for one reason or another. I have probably seen lots of movies that I think are essential viewing, but they are only essential to ME, not necessarily someone else. I'll get around to a bunch of them, but in the meantime, give the dude a break. Keep it up Quint. We all know what you do!
June 13, 2008, 1:11 a.m. CST
June 13, 2008, 1:30 a.m. CST
Damn You Michael Bay
June 13, 2008, 2 a.m. CST
Great you picked up on that word Quint, given the amount of Christ imagery in the film. Luke arrives at the jail and gives hope to the inmates before... well you know. Brilliant tovie, but I can't believe you didn't mention "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" which not only borrows the sinners and saviours motif, but also the sadistic/satanic death's-head-in-shades hunter character.
June 13, 2008, 2 a.m. CST
That is all.
June 13, 2008, 2:53 a.m. CST
I'm surprised more people haven't commented on the religious aspect og the film. I'll even go one up on Jimocop and call it an allegory on the life of Christ. I had missed this angle entirely the first two times I saw the film and then suddenly af couple of years ago I rewatched it and it all came together: the outsider bringing hope to the inmates, his "miracles", Strother "washing his hands" with that famous line, the visit by his mother, his "Gethsemane"-moment in the church near the end and of course Dragline spreading the good word at the very end: "He's a natural born world-shaker." The great thing is that you don't need to see this in order to appreciate the film. It simply adds another layer to it. Great storytelling, great filmmaking and superb acting!
June 13, 2008, 3:28 a.m. CST
The penny-pinching hockey team GM in Slapshot. The, turns out, more-than-slightly effeminate, cross-dressing, can't-do-right, nickel & diming GM who would "piss on Eddie Shore!" But, yeah... Cool Hand Luke is one of Newman's greatest (and he co-starred with Martin in that one, too). Just watching that movie... your body wanted to sweat in a form of empathy with the characters. Anyone who lives in the humid deep south knows. Watching this movie... damn! Those poor bastards really went through hell. So so many little things went into the mix to make this one of our best films ever. But, then again, lest we forget Strother's line in George Roy Hill's Slapshot... his severly heartbroken delivery of the line: "... not this bunch of.... pussies!"
June 13, 2008, 3:35 a.m. CST
I agree, but I didn't want to hammer the paralells to JC coz that would spoil the ending...
June 13, 2008, 3:51 a.m. CST
better than shawshank redemption.
June 13, 2008, 4:05 a.m. CST
by Red Dawn Don
Up until this movie all of my movie heroes were good to the core. LUKE was a true gray heroe. I had trouble back then reconciling his heroic side from his heel side. I now prefer flawed heroes in my movies.
June 13, 2008, 5:55 a.m. CST
by Lost Jarv
Possibly the best film on your list Quint, everything else is downhill after this one.
June 13, 2008, 7:06 a.m. CST
by Owen Taylor
Actually the line is: "What we've got here is... failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it... well, he gets it. I don't like it any more than you men."
June 13, 2008, 7:19 a.m. CST
...egg eating contest too, but unfortunately I couldn't find any costentants :P
June 13, 2008, 7:25 a.m. CST
I haven't popped it in in awhile, but remember the dvd being bare bones, which is a shame as classics like this deserve better.
June 13, 2008, 7:29 a.m. CST
So, like, the river that looks like an old man that kills the bad guys at the end, he's the Holy Father, right? And Aslan is Jesus. And when he tells the mice not to cut off their tails, that's a criticism on the Jews and circumcision.<p> Am I close?
June 13, 2008, 7:47 a.m. CST
by Magic Rat
best line in the movie.
June 13, 2008, 8:52 a.m. CST
when I watched it for the first time last year, it nearly put me to sleep a couple times.
June 13, 2008, 9:10 a.m. CST
by Ned Pepper
...at how many had not seen this movie, but I guess that's the way it always is with your favorite things: you can't imagine that EVERYONE doesn't love them like you do. Cool Hand Luke is in my personal top ten movies of all time, but there are lots of "great" flicks I've never seen. Keep 'em coming Quint!
June 13, 2008, 9:21 a.m. CST
by The Harp
Rio Bravo, Cool Hand Luke, Bullitt. If you've never seen these three films, you're a woman. If you've seen them and don't like them, you're gay. If you've seen them, love them, and worship them daily, you're allowed to piss standing up, because you're finally a man.
June 13, 2008, 9:40 a.m. CST
by half vader
So what's the best then Bacci? Brazil? <p> Add me to the list of those who can't comprehend Quint not having seen it. <p> And let me start the list of those who are jealous of him for getting to experience such a great flick for the first time.
June 13, 2008, 11:32 a.m. CST
That better be your quote tomorrow.
June 13, 2008, 11:58 a.m. CST
June 13, 2008, 12:19 p.m. CST
angle in the pre-Easy Rider days. "The man and motion picture do not conform....bugs the Establishment as..."
June 13, 2008, 2:03 p.m. CST
by Wee Willie
But if you're going to "review" a well-known classic, at least try to find something interesting to say other than basically re-iterating that "this was awesome..."
June 13, 2008, 2:04 p.m. CST
by Axl Z
"AND HISTORY HIDES THE LIES OF OUR CIVIL WARSSS...." gotta love GN'R!
June 13, 2008, 2:48 p.m. CST
by The Dum Guy
I believe eight-years old. They had at my local library and I watched it, and liked it. Also the library video collection is where I first 'rented' the original Star Wars trilogy. Support your' local library and Mom & Pop stores.
June 13, 2008, 3:32 p.m. CST
and I picked up on the Christ story at the end of the egg eating contest. When he's lying on the table and the camera is above him. He's sprawled out in the typical crucifix image. See, religious inspiration CAN come from a R rated movie not directed by Mel Gibson...
June 13, 2008, 6:04 p.m. CST
there is not 1 lee marvin movie on there. your'e manlyness is revoked, in its place, a cock in your ass.
June 13, 2008, 6:56 p.m. CST
Never get sick of watching this movie. Watching Luke outfox the bloodhounds is always a entertaining. Along the same lines, Quint, if you haven't seen The Cincinnati Kid, check it out. One of my favorite Steve McQueen roles.
June 13, 2008, 11:40 p.m. CST
by half vader
There's a bit of Luke in that performance too though I guess. I just find Bullitt uneven, that's all. McQueen is cool as though.
June 14, 2008, 1:47 p.m. CST
Hey if you love classic movies, check out this great new blog on blogspot... it's called thebitterproducer
June 14, 2008, 10:11 p.m. CST
Johnny Depp? Leo Decrapio? Brad Pitt? Matt Damon? George Clooney? Brendan Frasier? The Rock? Maybe these actors are "cool" to 12 year old boys but none can stand up to Newman and McQueen. Bunch of twinks including The Rock with his Disney career.
June 14, 2008, 11:40 p.m. CST
by Ive got her car right here.
that George Kennedy won the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his role in this film? Kennedy’s character is an allegory of Judas to Newman’s Christ as he betrays him at the end. The final shot of Newman’s fake photograph is shown torn in an almost perfect cross.
June 15, 2008, 12:26 a.m. CST
Hey, this movie is available on Netflix's Instant watch service. Also, I love this series...great work!
June 15, 2008, 5:27 p.m. CST
One of Paul Newmans best movies. You should add "Sometimes a Great Notion" to your list. It's about a logging family in Oregon; there's a scene I never forgot with Newman trying to save one his guys trapped under a log while the water is rising (not sure if it's available on DVD). Also, the "The Eiger Sanction"; George Kennedy is great in that (he and Eastwood have some great one-liners).
June 15, 2008, 5:30 p.m. CST
he was just so great in here going from a-hole type to gradual warm pal. AND he rules in naked gun! 'SEX, FRANK?' 'NO NOT RIGHT NOW WE HAVE WORK TO DO.'
June 15, 2008, 5:32 p.m. CST
'yeah and if i ever CATCH THE GUY!!!!'
July 5, 2008, 10:58 p.m. CST
July 6, 2008, 3:02 p.m. CST
... as nominated by the gang at "Cheers"
Aug. 12, 2008, 2:30 a.m. CST
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