Hiya, kids! So after taking some time to meddle with things over at The IPC yesterday (see the mayhem here), we are now back on track with Resolutions 2014! It makes me sniffle to say this, but today’s review is actually the last of the guest reviews. 😦 Don’t get too sad though–I’m sure I’ll do this again next year (how could I not?), and I’m hoping to do another series perhaps as early as March…but I’ll share those details later. For now, we have Brian from Hard Ticket to Home Video here to finish off the guest reviews. I’m sure you follow HTTHV, but if you don’t for some reason, change that. It’s a hilarious and awesome movie blog. Here’s Brian’s take on Cool Hand Luke!
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Starring: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin, Harry Dean Stanton, Dennis Hopper
Directed by: Stuart Rosenberg (The Amityville Horror; The Pope of Greenwich Village; The Laughing Policeman)
Synopsis: A lovable misfit commits a small crime and gets two years at a road crew prison. Beatings, egg eatings, and escape attempts ensue.
Best part: There are two amazing things about this scene: George Kennedy’s acting and some grade-A ditch digging. I mean just a fine job there, fellas.
Worst part: The whole eating 50 eggs scene is just kind of senseless. It’s fun I guess, and has become somewhat of a classic scene, but it’s just really unnecessary, and those 10 minutes could have been used on some character development.
Nudity: The soapy cleavage seen above and a couple of inmate asses.
Overall: Paul Newman is my favorite actor by far yet I’d never seen one of his most iconic performances in Cool Hand Luke. I went into this with the expectation of loving it, but it fell a little short of that. Paul Newman was great, and George Kennedy was surprisingly outstanding, but I thought the direction was lacking throughout most of it, and there just wasn’t enough character development, even for Luke. We never really got to learn anything about any of the secondary characters, even Kennedy’s Dragline, who has almost as much screen time and dialogue as Luke. The always-excellent Strother Martin was also left with no character development or backstory, even though his character could have been even more classic than for just being known for his “failure to communicate” line. Even the “evil” prison guard who doesn’t speak never really does anything all that cruel and seemed like a wasted opportunity. In fact, the only true “unfair” thing that happened to Luke was when they put him in the box after his mother died. Other than that, it seemed like they treated everyone ok. That’s why I wasn’t entirely sure why Luke tried to escape. He was only serving two years. Just keep your mouth shut and do your time. But I suppose that wouldn’t have been much of a movie. But then they could have at least given him a little more motivation to escape. There should have been much more buildup to it. All of a sudden, he was escaping. I guess it was just because he was a “free spirit.” This movie reminded me of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in a lot of ways: rebellious lead, peculiar inmates, cruel administration, escape attempts, etc. But I think I prefer Cuckoo’s Nest to this, because the characters are more fleshed out. Plus Cuckoo’s Nest had a cool score, and Cool Hand Luke’s score, by TV maestro Lalo Schifrin, sounds pretty terrible, and way too “TV.” That was the problem I had with the direction as well. This was the director’s first feature after years of doing TV, and it shows. The boxing scene, for example, is horribly shot. It just could have been done so much better. So while I did like the movie very much, mostly because of Newman, I think it doesn’t quite reach all-time classic status. But maybe it just didn’t communicate its message to me the way it should have.
Score: 8 nights in the box (out of 10)