After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.
Luke Jackson is a cool, gutsy prisoner in a Southern chain gang, who, while refusing to buckle under to authority, keeps escaping and being recaptured. The prisoners admire Luke because, as Dragline explains it, "You're an original, that's what you are!" Nevertheless, the camp staff actively works to crush Luke until he finally breaks. Written by
The line "What we've got here is failure to communicate" was voted as the #11 movie quote by the American Film Institute. When Frank Pierson wrote that dialog to be delivered by a an uneducated, redneck prison guard, he worried that people wouldn't find it authentic. So he wrote a biography of the guard, explaining that in order to advance to a higher grade in the system, he had been required to take criminology courses, thus exposing him to the kind of academic vocabulary that would justify him using the "communicate" phrase. But as it turned out, no one questioned the line or needed to read the fictional account. See more »
The police car shown in the opening scene and when Luke is shot is equipped with a Federal Beacon Ray Model 174. The movie is set in the late '40 and that beacon was available until 1958. See more »
What we've got here is... failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it... well, he gets it. I don't like it any more than you men.
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"Luke" is a character Newman was born to play - and this is one hell of a beautiful film
This film got me from the first frame to the last. It's not even because of the story (which I love, of course) - it's just so very well made. And so modern. The kind of angles and perspectives the camera uses, the way it zooms in and out or even allows itself (literally) to get dirty - the way this whole picture was shot is just something I haven't seen in an American film released prior to this one.
And yet, although it is considered a classic, when people talk about the "New Hollywood" somehow 'Cool Hand Luke' is hardly ever mentioned - despite the fact that it came out only a couple of months after 'Bonnie and Clyde' in 1967 and before 'The Graduate'.
I look at this film mainly as a character study but the story arc also works very well and it hasn't aged a bit. This is one of those rare films that was way ahead of its time and which has simply everything: great acting, iconic characters and scenes, wonderful music - and the cinematography is just unbelievable.
Funny, tragic and moving, 'Cool Hand Luke' is one hell of a film. What we've got here is NOT failure to communicate - but a 10 star masterpiece.