Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Cool Hand Luke Movie Review

Cool Hand Luke  Movie Review

Cool Hand Luke is a 1967 prison drama film directed by Stuart Rosenberg and starring Paul Newman in the title role. It is one of his most famous roles.

The plot follows Luke who is a prisoner in a chain gang who won’t commit to the system. The story is very familiar and it never rises above it, unfortunately. But what hurts the movie most is the second half where nothing really outstanding happens, instead there happen only clichés and expected ending. But the first half is pretty good with of course egg eating contest being the highlight of the whole picture because it is very well executed, energetic and fun to watch. And also very memorable.

The characters are solid, but ultimately forgettable. Luke is okay as the lead, if a somewhat typical heroic figure of a protagonist. But Dragline, although crucial to the story, was very annoying in my opinion and the film, again expectedly, never explains how the two got to be friends after he beat Luke to oblivion in the first act. That is some typical Hollywood problematic script which is too unrealistic and in the last act too inspirational.

As for the acting, it is of course phenomenal. Paul Newman gives one of his most memorable and finest performances definitely earning his Oscar nod whereas George Kennedy earned his win for playing his somewhat unlikable character in a great way delivering a stupendous performance.

The directing from Rosenberg is nothing to write home about and I honestly think that in the hands of another, more suave and  more professional director, this could have turned out to be a great film. But unfortunately that was not the case and he somewhat lessened the film’s overall impact. The movie is well shot, but the cinematography and scenery also never quite distinguish themselves from other films of the type. The editing should have been more brisk and the score is not memorable. The technical aspects definitely hurt the film the most after the predictability of the last act.

When comparing it to other similar films, Cool Hand Luke falls flat. I am talking about ‘I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang’ which is a very similar film with a similar final act and structure, but it  is executed so much better, is so much more memorable and overall more entertaining and better made. And that is unfortunate because this movie with a bit of care could have been much better and even compared to the aforementioned film, but that did not happen leaving the movie’s impact quite blunt.

Cool Hand Luke has solid characters, some very memorable sequences, great first half and a terrific performance from Paul Newman and George Kennedy, but the second half is unfortunately too predictable, too inspirational and typical, the directing should have been better and the technical aspects all fall flat. It is a solid film, but ultimately the one which fails when compared to other films with similar story and structure.

My Rating – 3,5

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Posted in 1960s, 1967, Drama, FILM DECADES and tagged , , , .

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