Sunday, August 4, 2013

167 of 1001 Movies: Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Cool Hand Luke is a movie to watch if you want to feel cool. There is just something it embodies that speaks to those who resist to conform. I wouldn't recommend going the path of Luke though, especially since prison has changed a bit. Steven Rosenberg though shows that you don't need equipment from 2013 to create a visually stunning and compelling movie, and that with the loss of film there is a certain quality lost as well. You also have Paul Newman leading and just showing he is one of the best actors there has ever been.

Summary: Luke gets caught removing the heads off parking meters while under the influence, and he is arrested. He ends up with pretty harden criminals though in a prison camp where he will work on the roads all day, and then sleep and eat at night. The life isn't easy, and you can be put in "the box" for basically anytime the wardens feel threatened you'll act up. Luke though doesn't conform very well, so he begins planning his escape, and he will continue to revolt until they will let him go.

Acting: I only saw my first movie with Paul Newman a month ago, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and in this one. He is a really good actor who seems to be drawn to certain rebellious characters who don't back down. He also has the talent of portraying them differently enough so they don't feel like the same people. Luke is sort of a quiet guy, but he brings a lot of attention to himself with his antics around the prison camp. He's an actor that says a lot just by his facial expressions. George Kennedy is one of the guys who befriends him in prison as Dragline. While we don't find out a lot about the guy, the actor does portray him well enough to keep us guessing about who is real persona is.

Filming: I wouldn't say that the movie does too many amazing things with the shots, or anything, but the director has an eye for keeping the flow of the movie feeling modern. The color really pops. You have shots of the guys working into the sunset, or sometimes the scenery matched the hopeless feel of the situation the guys were in. Even the very barren quarters that the prisoners stay in has this warm cast that feels very lively. You don't have any transitions that date the movie too badly either. The movie moves nicely and over time catches your attention without you realizing it.

Plot: The plot is one that takes time to grow, but once it does it really does take you for a ride. I think the first hour feels a little long though. You are more ready than ever to finally see the personality of Luke emerge, but it feels like we spend a while just seeing him go through the drudge of work, and I even thought he was settling into the lifestyle of being a prisoner, until he surprises you. Once he gets on the run it really does get interesting even though we never see where he goes. The perception of Luke is built through the prisoners eyes. I think this works to create a larger than life image of Luke that you could only get from people who have made him that way.

Cool Hand Luke is a movie that goes from feeling like a comedic light film to one that is quite dark and somber. You'll be puzzling over how Luke got the way he did for a bit after the movie. It goes a direction I didn't expect, but I enjoyed the movie a lot better once it got into a direction that felt more plot driven. Newman also brings another interesting character and intriguing movie to life.

Rating 8 of 10.

Cool Hand Luke (1967) on IMDb

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