Cool Hand Luke (Deluxe Edition) – DVD Review
By Jeff Swindoll Sep 10, 2008, 13:01 GMT
Newman, who was Oscar-nominated for Best actor for his role, gives one of the most powerful performances of his career as Lucas “Luke” Jackson, a cool, gutsy prisoner in a Southern chain gang, who refuses to buckle under to authority, while repeatedly escaping and being recaptured. The prisoners admire Luke because of his gumption but the head of the gang hates him and tries to break him by beating him ...more
“What we got here is failure to communicate.”
Paul Newman got an Oscar nod for his portrayal of the parking meter murdering Luke, but it was George Kennedy who would walk away with the gold. Both give fantastic performances and the cast is peppered with familiar character actor faces - especially the wheezy Strother Martin and his oft quoted line.
Luke (Paul Newman) is sentenced to serve hard time in a sweaty Florida prison camp and chain gang ran by the quietly sadistic Captain (Strother Martin) and his enforcer Boss Godfrey (Morgan Woodward).
He earns the ire of head inmate Dragline (George Kennedy), but his determination in a fight with the massive Dragline earns Luke his respect. Luke’s charisma earns him the respect and admiration of the inmates, but his attempts to gain his freedom will result in anything but.
Talk about a failure to communicate. On a trip to a local fast food establishment my request for an Asian chicken salad resulted in a Southwestern chicken salad. Either was tasty, but I only noticed the substitution when I got the salad home so I didn’t have the opportunity to tell the gal behind the counter that she had to spend the night in the box.
When I did get home to eat my dinner, Paul Newman, in Southwestern attire, was staring up at me from the bag on a dressing packet. It reminded me of all of the money that the gracious Newman, and wife Joanne Woodward, has donated to charity through his Newman’s Own brand.
I’m also reminded that the legendary actor is ailing and may not be with us for much longer. Mores the shame since he’s not only a philanthropist but also a fine actor and Cool Hand Luke is just one of many of his fine roles.
Another thing that strikes me as I watch Cool Hand Luke again is that George Kennedy is an actor who just doesn’t seem to get his due, though he won the Oscar for this supporting role.
Cool Hand Luke is an actor’s film, maybe more specifically a character actor’s film as the cast is peppered with some extremely familiar faces. Look for Harry Dean Stanton, a mute Dennis Hopper, Ralph Waite in a role far from Pa Walton, Clifton “in the box” James, Anthony Zerbe, and Joe Don Baker. An excellent film all around.
Cool Hand Luke is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions.
Special features include a commentary with historian/Newman biographer Eric Lax. Next is the 28-minute “A Natural Born World-Shaker” which interviews director Stuart Rosenberg, writer Frank R. Pierson, Cool Hand Luke novelist Donn Pearce (who also appears in the film and was a technical advisor), assistant director Hank Moonjean, composer Lalo Schifrin, and actors Ralph Waite, George Kennedy, Clifton James, Lou Antonio, Anthony Zerbe, and Joy Harmon (the girl washing the car). Sadly it seems they only one they don?t talk to is Paul Newman.? Finally you get the 3-minute theatrical trailer.
Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand, but this film is actually something. An excellent performance by Paul Newman and a cast of familiar faces only make it worth watching.
This new edition adds some new special features and it’s a pleasure to see some of the actors reminisce in the documentary. Well worth adding to your collection. I hope that I’ve not failed in my communicating that to you.