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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, July 31, 2014 - Edition No 908 

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COOL HAND LUKE: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
Drunken ex-war hero Lucas Jackson (Paul Newman) hardly cares less when he's arrested for destroying a row of parking meters and sentenced to two years on a prison farm chain gang. It takes a lot more to break the spirit of this smirk-some vagabond with a deep loathing of authority. But as Cool Hand Luke (nicknamed after keeping a cool-head in cards) continually and quietly defies the guards to his own detriment, it's the reluctant hero worship he gains from his fellow convicts, including tough guy Dragline (George Kennedy), that could really land him in trouble.


Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
"What we have here is a failure to communicate". So said the hard-nose prison guard Captain to the rebellious Luke, and it's one of the best movie lines of all time. It not only sums up the theme of this classic Deep South prison drama, it reflects the decade it is set - the 1960s - in which protest against authority was a key issue.

Cool Hand Luke is based on the true story of Donn Pearce, a man sentenced to two years on a chain gang for safe cracking and, along with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, it's one of the richest examples of one man's anti-establishment behaviour. One man might not be able to change the world, but he can change the world of those around him. That might sound familiar, not just in Cuckoo's Nest, The Great Escape, The Shawshank Redemption or the many other anti-establishment themed movies, but for its rich religious symbolism and imagery, as Luke represents a modern-day Messiah leading his disciples, oppressed for his beliefs.

The movie is a bona fide classic, often quoted by movie characters as their favourite movie ever (John Cusack in Serendipity, Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites), so it's a shame Warner Bros have given it such an average DVD package. There's a simple cast and crew list and still-frame production notes which include anecdotes about what went on behind the scenes. Amusingly, a highway building inspector mistakenly condemned the purpose-built set, and Jo Van Fleet's comment about playing Newman's mother though only six years his senior is even better. Lastly, Film Flash is a quick grab of other escapee films for fans of the genre. That's all we get - no commentary, no documentaries, no retrospective. It's a shameful way to treat such a cool classic. That always leaves the possibility of a more extensive future DVD edition.

With excellent performances - Newman is never better, but lost the Oscar to Rod Steiger, while Kennedy won Best Supporting Actor - and a tone that is oppressively prison-like; the guards with their rifles, mirror sunglasses and chewing tobacco, Cool Hand Luke is more than just a movie filled with cool lines. Check out the cool scenes; Newman eating 50 eggs is part of movie legend.

Published August 28, 2003



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COOL HAND LUKE: DVD (M)
(US) - 1967

CAST: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, J D Cannon, Robert Drivas, Lou Antonio, Strother Martin, Jo Van Fleet. SCRIPT: Donn Pearce (novel, Donn Pearce) RUNNING TIME: 126 minutes PRESENTATION: 2:35:1, 16:9 Enhanced Widescreen SPECIAL FEATURES: Cast, Production Notes, Theatrical Trailer, Film Flash. DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video AUSTRALIAN DVD RELEASE: July 9, 2003

DIRECTOR: Stuart Rosenberg

SCRIPT: Donn Pearce (novel, Donn Pearce)

RUNNING TIME: 126 minutes

PRESENTATION: 2:35:1, 16:9 Enhanced Widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: Cast, Production Notes, Theatrical Trailer, Film Flash.

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: July 9, 2003







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