Classic Cinema: Cool Hand Luke (1967) – By Jason S. Lockard

Star of the month Paul Leonard Newman was born on January 26, 1925 in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Newman showed an early interest in the theater, when at the age of seven, he playing the court jester in a school production of Robin Hood. He graduated from Shaker Heights High School in 1943 and briefly attended Ohio University. Than Newman served in the United States Navy in World War II in the Pacific theater. He enrolled in the Navy V-12 pilot training program at Yale University, but was dropped when his colorblindness was discovered.

After the war, he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in drama and economics at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio in 1949. Newman than joined several summer stock companies. When he arrived in New York City in 1951 he found his way to the Broadway stage for many years. Also during this time Newman acted on the small screen with roles on shows like Tales of Tomorrow and Appointment with Adventure.

In 1954 Newman would make his big screen debut in The Silver Chalice. This was just the beginning for Paul Newman as his star would rise to amazing heights starring in many great films such as; Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956),The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963), Hombre (1967), The Towering Inferno (1974), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Sting (1973) just to name a few. In 1967 he starred in the our film of the month; Cool Hand Luke.

The film follows Lucas “Luke” Jackson, a decorated Korean War veteran who one night while intoxicated was arrested for cutting the “heads” off parking meters. He than is sentenced to two years in prison and sent to a Florida chain gang prison run by a sadistic warden, who wants nothing more than to break Cool Hand Luke’s spirit. Will the warden succeed? You have to watch the film to find out!

The film and actors were nominated for Academy Awards, George Kennedy won for Best supporting actor. AFI listed Cool Hand Luke as the #30 hero in their 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains. The film also rated #71 in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Cheers. Than the Warden’s line “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate”, landed #11 on AFI’s 100 most memorable movie lines.

Newman founded Newman’s Own, a line of food products featuring salad dressing, pasta sauce, lemonade, popcorn, salsa, and many other products with all proceeds, after taxes, would be donated to charity.

Newman announced his retirement from acting on May 25, 2007. Than in June 2008, Newman was diagnosed with lung cancer and was receiving treatment at Sloan-Kettering hospital in New York City, but on September 26, 2008, at the age of 83, Paul Newman passed away.

So if you have never seen Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke, what are you waiting for. It is a classic. Don’t miss it! Until next month this is Jason S. Lockard reminding you, if you want to see a great movie check out a classic.

Moral Rating: mild violence
Audience: Parental guidance
Genre: drama
Length: 126 Minutes
Released: 1967
Rating: A+