Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Cool Hand Luke" the granddaddy of prison dramas

TITLE: "Cool Hand Luke"
DIRECTOR: Stuart Rosenberg
STARS: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin, Dennis Hopper
EDITOR: Sam O'Steene
AWARDS: Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Oscar, George Kennedy)
BOX OFFICE: $23,517,773 (US and rentals)
RUN TIME: 126 min.
RATING: Approved

When Lucas Jackson is caught defacing parking meters, he is sentenced to two years in prison as part of a chain gang in the South. His non-conformity, and unwillingness to respect authority immediately sets him apart of the rest of the population, and Luke does all he can to make life better for his fellow inmates.

Essentially, any film with Paul Newman could be considered a classic. His reputation is iconic. He has garnered nominations and wins for the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTAs, SAG, the Cannes Film Fest, and the Emmys. He is also a well known political activist, and philanthropist. Newman was well respected in all of his ventures.

This film specifically is well known because of it's message of rebellion, anti-authority, and standing up for oneself. Newman garnered an Oscar nomination for his role, which was later considered to be one of AFI's top 100 Heroes and Empire Magazines Top 100 Movie Characters. It's inspiration can be seen in many dramas since, notably "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994) which dealt with similar themes decades after this classic's release.

This movie may not be perfect, but it is close. Newcomer Roseberg did well with camera work, by having an engaging look. The pacing of the film never really lags, even with a lack of much physical action.

Neman's performance is stand out, but so are the performances of most of the supporting cast, with a special mention for Jo Van Fleet, who's single scene as Luke's ill mother is not soon forgotten.

All in all, this is a movie to see. It is entertaining, inspirational, well made, and all-together enjoyable. Check this one out before that next straight-to-video piece on your Netflix queue.

MY IMDb RATING:  8 out of 10

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