Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cool Hand Newman

While Stuart Rosenberg’s directorial career only held a few highlights (Pocket Money, The Drowning Pool, The Pope of Greenwich Village), he knew well how to work with actors, particularly Paul Newman, who he directed four times, and teamed-up with to make his finest picture, Cool Hand Luke (1967, Warner, 126 minutes, $19.97). Newman is at the height of his powers here, utilizing a physicality equal to Brando’s combined with the wistful soulfulness of James Dean and the outsiderness of Montgomery Clift. Rosenberg and master cinematographer Conrad Hall make sure we don’t miss the Luke/Newman–as-Christ figure implications, but they also combine for an array of visual flourishes that only serve to make this prison/rebel tale more full-bodied. Of course, those of us going through adolescence when this became a television fixture will never forget three of it’s major scenes: the one-on-one scrape up between Newman and Kennedy, the egg-eating contest, and the nerve-tingling country-girl-washing-car-sequence. Any filmgoer worth his or her salt should immediately conjure up both the cadence and the flavor of Strother Martin’s unforgettable line: “What we have here is failure to communicate.”


DarrenH said...

also Harry Dean Stanton's musical debut http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyZz70RJ0ZQ

mikeyt said...

One of my favorite movies, and not just for the car wash-- altho that's reason enough.
I love the supporting cast-- not just Kennedy and Strother Martin, but where else will you see Trapper John, M.D. (Wayne Rogers), Pop Walton (Ralph Waite), McCloud's NYPD Police Chief boss (J.D. Cannon)-- who by the way is the only chain gang member wo gets the New York Times delivered-- as well as a guitar slingin' and singin' Dean Stanton, and even Dennis Hopper, all sharing the same prison bunkhouse?

Kerri said...

50 eggs! No one can eat 50 eggs! Great review of an unforgettable movie. I first saw it around the age of 10 or so and it made a big impression on me. Over the years it became one of those movies that my friends and I quote often...especially "quit livin' off meeeeee!" Thanks for the memories!