His crime: nonconformity. His sentence: the chain gang. Paul Newman plays one of his best-loved roles as Cool Hand Luke, the loner who won't - or can't - conform to the arbitrary rules of his captivity. It recalls other hallmark Newman performances: Luke is The Hustler without a dream of victory, Harper without a moral mission, Hud without a father to defy. A cast of fine character actors, including George Kennedy in his Academy Award-winning role of Dragline, gives Newman solid support as fellow prisoners. And Strother Martin is the Captain who taunts Luke with the famous line, "What we've got here is...failure to communicate." No failure here. With rich humour and vibrant storytelling power, Cool Hand Luke succeeds resoundingly.
Luke gets 2 years on a chain gang for cutting the heads off parking metres. He just gets on with doing his time until his mother passes away. Concerned that Luke might want to pay his respect at the funeral, the sadistic captain, brilliantly played by Strother Martin, takes him off the road and puts him in the box "for his own good". This action changes the mindset of Luke, who then runs at every opportunity. Newman is brilliant as Luke, as is George Kennedy as Dragline, the bully boy daddy of the prison, who after a fight with Luke becomes his friend. Right from the brilliant start, as the music starts as Luke laughs, the film is brilliant all the way through. Brilliant dialogue, score, and acting from all the protagonists. " What we got here is a failure to communicate". One of the classic lines, but there is no failure to communicate with us as viewers. If you have not seen it, PLEASE do. Outstanding.