Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Cool Hand Luke

Why I Saw This Movie
          This is one of those classic movies that I suppose everyone has to see eventually.  On top of that, it had been highly recommended to me by numerous people.

* Some classic scenes, and some really classic lines (W).
* Wonderfully anti-establishment
* Wonderfully religiously irreverent
* sympathizes with society’s outcasts—the chain gain prisoners.

* This film is too much in love with its main character—it makes the whole film feel like a vanity project for Paul Newman
* In common with other films from the 1960s, this film has annoying theme music that the director is determined to drive into your head by playing it and re-playing it over and over and over again.
* A long film, for most of which there’s no clear plot.

The Review
          I hate to give such a classic film a bad review, but I didn’t dig it as much as other people have dug it.  I like the idea of making films about society’s outcasts and underdogs, but I felt like this was undercut by having the central premise of the film revolve around not the ordinary prisoners, but about how cool everyone thought Luke was.  (The film felt like one big vanity project for Paul Newman.)  And although it did have some classic scenes, on the whole the film was overly long with no clear plot or direction.

Other Things I Would Talk About if I Wasn’t Limiting Myself to 100 Words
* Wondering how much of this film’s classic status is related to it being advantageously timed—it’s anti-establishment themes no doubt were lapped up by audiences in 1967.

* Actually as someone who generally sides with the anti-establishment crowd myself, I should perhaps be more on this movie’s side, but I thought the idea of Paul Newman as the super-cool rebel undercut the theme I would have liked to see instead—the idea of the common ordinary person struggling against oppression.

 Link of the Day 


Darrell Reimer said...

This dude, who should have seen it back-in-the-day, has a similar reaction. A lot of those early Paul Newman movies have a "vanity project" feel to them, I'd say. He didn't really get in touch with his inner shit until the '70s.

Although, now that I think of it, he was pretty contemptible in The Hustler. He needed the right director, maybe.

Joel said...

Thanks for the link. Yeah, I think I'd agree with that reviewer. The films cult status makes it feel like you've seen it all before, even if you haven't. (I also knew what most of the famous scenes would be before I saw them.)

I still haven't seen the Hustler. I'll have to put that on my list.