Cool Hand Luke!

I just discovered that many schools no longer teach cursive. That’s horrible. Now kids will have to learn how to curse on the streets.

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Watching “Cool Hand Luke” should be a right of passage for all young men. This is one of my favorite films of all time. Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin, Wayne Rogers, Ralph Waite and many other stars depict what life used to be like on a Southern chain gang.

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Luke, played by Newman, is a guy who plays by his own rules. He gets arrested at the beginning of the film for being drunk and cutting off the tops of parking meters for no reason. It seems ridiculous then, but makes much more sense as you get to know the character.

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George Kennedy’s character, Dragline, is the biggest and toughest convict in the prison camp, and Luke is the only one brave (stupid?) enough to take him on. At the prison, all fighting takes place in the form of a boxing match, sanctioned by Martin, the warden, or captain.

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So here is Luke, getting pounded by Dragline, to the point where the other prisoners who were cheering on Dragline, walked away because the beating was so severe. Luke refused to give up. He kept getting knocked down hard by Dragline, who, at one point didn’t want to keep hitting Luke by telling him to stay down. Luke’s response? “Your gonna have to kill me”.

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Luke, now best friends with Dragline, due to the respect earned from the fight, escapes several times, sometimes even catching the other inmates by surprise. We get a real inside look at Luke’s character when Dragline refers to one of the escapes and the punishments that Luke endured by inferring that Luke had planned everything carefully, to which Luke replies, “I’ve never planned anything in my life”.

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In one sequence, everyone is bored on their Saturday night, when Luke nonchalantly says, “I can eat 50 eggs”. This became a huge event, with every dollar in camp was bet on whether he could or could not eat 50 hard boiled eggs. I won’t be a spoiler, but this sequence alone is worth renting or buying the film.

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I’ll only tell you that have not seen this great film one more thing. The nickname “Cool Hand Luke” was branded to Newman’s character during a poker hand that he won by bluffing. When Dragline told the other inmates that his boy was bluffing and had nothing, Luke says, “Yeah well, sometimes nothing can be a pretty cool hand”.

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There is so much more to the movie. Plots within plots; I hope I have peaked your curiosity enough to rent this gem. If I haven’t, well, “What we’ve got here, is failure to communicate”.

See you tomorrow.

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