What We’ve Got Here is Failure to Communicate

Cool Hand Luke is one the greatest prison movies ever made. Continuing to inspire the New Hollywood movement of the late 60’s. Based on the 1965 book of the same name, Cool Hand Luke became a symbol for anti-establishment. A perfect film for the Vietnam era. In fact, Cool Hand Luke has a rare 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. It wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, but it was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay from the author Donn Pearce. Most of the movie is based on his own experience as a Florida inmate. Director Stuart Rosenberg captures the overwhelming heat of the hot Florida sun. Music Score was also nominated for its hopeful twangy melody.

Paul Newman became an even more iconic star nominated for his performance as Lucas Jackson. Luke is a veteran sent to a Florida prison camp for a petty crime. As his Biblical name suggests, the movie uses Christian themes to convey his journey. Newman’s smile is a trademark that makes Luke a strong-willed hero who fights the establishment. He wins admiration in a boxing match, manages to eat 50 hard boiled eggs, and wins a game of poker that earns him the nickname “Cool Hand Luke.” As great as Newman is, it’s George Kennedy who won Best Supporting Actor as fellow inmate Dragline. He taunts Luke at first, but develops a strong friendship that gives him the best arc.

Many notable prison inmates include big names like Harry Dean Stanton or Dennis Hopper. The film is light on women, but it does feature a memorable one scene performance from Jo Van Fleet as Luke’s visiting mother. As well as a particularly sexy scene where Joy Harmon washes a car in front of the inmates. Prison wardens are the bad guys who continually try to break the inmates by putting them in “the box.” The “man with no eyes” is the most iconic warden, but it’s Strother Martin as the Captain who utters the most iconic line. “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate” is another famous quote that proceeds the movie it comes from. Luke tries to escape many times, but they’re never able to break him. Making Cool Hand Luke a determined success.

Cool Hand Luke

Luke boxes Dragline

6 thoughts on “What We’ve Got Here is Failure to Communicate

  1. I first saw this when I was a kid, but I can’t remember if it was on TCM or A&E (back when stations like it, TNT, and TBS still showed classic films). Paul Newman never did anything for me, but he is great in this role. The supporting cast is just as interesting to see, George Kennedy, Strother Martin, and of course Morgan Woodard as Boss “The Man With No Eyes”, who I always thought may have been the Devil hiding himself in human form.

    Liked by 1 person

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