Luke (an Oscar-nominated Paul Newman) is sent to a Deep South chain gang after smashing up some parking meters. Convict boss Dragline (an Oscar-winning George Kennedy) tries to crack the new inmate's spirit but Luke refuses to be broken. Reformed safecracker Donn Pearce based his novel and screenplay on his own experiences of imprisonment.
Paul Newman gives one of the defining performances of his career and cemented his place as a beautiful, rebel screen icon playing the stubbornly tough and independent title character in Cool Hand Luke
. And before he became familiar as a sidekick in 1970s' disaster movies (Earthquake
and the Airport
movies), George Kennedy won an Oscar for playing Dragline, the brutal chain-gang boss who tries to beat loner Luke's cool out of him. It's a classic rebel-against-the-repressive-institution story in the line of One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
or The Shawshank Redemption
. Certain moments have become classics--particularly the hardboiled egg-eating contest and the immortal line (drooled by Strother Martin, as a sadistic redneck prison officer): "What we have here is a failure to communicate". And don't forget, Luke is also the source of the oft-quoted driving ditty: "I don't care if it rains or freezes, long as I have my plastic Jesus, right here on the dashboard of my car." --Jim Emerson
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.