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Cool Hand Luke

Cool Hand Luke

Overview
Cool Hand Luke is a 1967 American prison drama film directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Stuart Rosenberg
Stuart Rosenberg was an American film and television director whose notable works included the movies Cool Hand Luke , Voyage of the Damned , The Amityville Horror , and The Pope of Greenwich Village .-Early life and career:Born in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, Rosenberg studied Irish...

 and starring Paul Newman
Paul Newman
Paul Leonard Newman was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, professional racing driver and auto racing enthusiast...

. The screenplay was adapted by Donn Pearce
Donn Pearce
Donn Pearce is an American author best known for the novel and screen play Cool Hand Luke.Born Donald Mills Pearce in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pearce left home at 15. He attempted to join the United States Merchant Marine at 16, but was turned away due to his age. He lied about his age,...

 and Frank Pierson from Pearce's 1965 novel of the same name
Cool Hand Luke (novel)
Cool Hand Luke is a novel by Donn Pearce published in 1965. It was adapted into a film of the same name. The story is told in first-person narrative and is unusual in that although there is dialogue, all words are indented paragraphs and are not encased in quotes as in normal English-language...

. The film features George Kennedy, Strother Martin
Strother Martin
Strother Martin was an American actor in numerous films and television programs. Martin is perhaps best known as the prison "captain" in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, where he uttered the line, "What we've got here is...failure to communicate."-Early life:Strother Martin Jr. was born in Kokomo,...

, J.D. Cannon and Morgan Woodward
Morgan Woodward
Morgan Woodward is an American actor.He is probably best known for his recurring role in Dallas as Marvin "Punk" Anderson...

.

Newman stars in the title role as Luke, a prisoner in a Florida prison
Prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

 camp who refuses to submit to the system. In 2005, the United States Library of Congress deemed Cool Hand Luke to be "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry
National Film Registry
The National Film Registry is the United States National Film Preservation Board's selection of films for preservation in the Library of Congress. The Board, established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, was reauthorized by acts of Congress in 1992, 1996, 2005, and again in October 2008...

.

Lucas Jackson (Paul Newman
Paul Newman
Paul Leonard Newman was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, professional racing driver and auto racing enthusiast...

) is arrested for cutting the heads off a town's parking meter
Parking meter
A parking meter is a device used to collect money in exchange for the right to park a vehicle in a particular place for a limited amount of time. Parking meters can be used by municipalities as a tool for enforcing their integrated on-street parking policy, usually related to their traffic and...

s one drunken night in the late 1940s.
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Quotations

Oh come on. Stop beatin' it. Get out there yourself. Stop feedin' off me. Get out of here. I can't breathe. Give me some air.

When it comes to the law, nothin' is understood...I'm his official egg-peeler. That's the law!

You gonna fit in real good, of course, unless you get rabbit in your blood and you decide to take off for home. You give the bonus system time and a set of leg chains to keep you slowed down just a little bit, for your own good, you'll learn the rules. Now, it's all up to you. Now I can be a good guy, or I can be one real mean son-of-a-bitch. It's all up to you.

The man...and the motion picture that simply do not conform.

On The Chain-Gang They'd Seen Every Kind Of Man - But Luke Became A Legend

"What we've got here...is failure to communicate."

He was a cool customer. . .until the law made it hot for him!

Encyclopedia
Cool Hand Luke is a 1967 American prison drama film directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Stuart Rosenberg
Stuart Rosenberg was an American film and television director whose notable works included the movies Cool Hand Luke , Voyage of the Damned , The Amityville Horror , and The Pope of Greenwich Village .-Early life and career:Born in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, Rosenberg studied Irish...

 and starring Paul Newman
Paul Newman
Paul Leonard Newman was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, professional racing driver and auto racing enthusiast...

. The screenplay was adapted by Donn Pearce
Donn Pearce
Donn Pearce is an American author best known for the novel and screen play Cool Hand Luke.Born Donald Mills Pearce in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pearce left home at 15. He attempted to join the United States Merchant Marine at 16, but was turned away due to his age. He lied about his age,...

 and Frank Pierson from Pearce's 1965 novel of the same name
Cool Hand Luke (novel)
Cool Hand Luke is a novel by Donn Pearce published in 1965. It was adapted into a film of the same name. The story is told in first-person narrative and is unusual in that although there is dialogue, all words are indented paragraphs and are not encased in quotes as in normal English-language...

. The film features George Kennedy, Strother Martin
Strother Martin
Strother Martin was an American actor in numerous films and television programs. Martin is perhaps best known as the prison "captain" in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, where he uttered the line, "What we've got here is...failure to communicate."-Early life:Strother Martin Jr. was born in Kokomo,...

, J.D. Cannon and Morgan Woodward
Morgan Woodward
Morgan Woodward is an American actor.He is probably best known for his recurring role in Dallas as Marvin "Punk" Anderson...

.

Newman stars in the title role as Luke, a prisoner in a Florida prison
Prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

 camp who refuses to submit to the system. In 2005, the United States Library of Congress deemed Cool Hand Luke to be "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry
National Film Registry
The National Film Registry is the United States National Film Preservation Board's selection of films for preservation in the Library of Congress. The Board, established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, was reauthorized by acts of Congress in 1992, 1996, 2005, and again in October 2008...

.

Plot


Lucas Jackson (Paul Newman
Paul Newman
Paul Leonard Newman was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, professional racing driver and auto racing enthusiast...

) is arrested for cutting the heads off a town's parking meter
Parking meter
A parking meter is a device used to collect money in exchange for the right to park a vehicle in a particular place for a limited amount of time. Parking meters can be used by municipalities as a tool for enforcing their integrated on-street parking policy, usually related to their traffic and...

s one drunken night in the late 1940s. He is sentenced to two years in prison and sent to a Florida prison camp, run by the heartless Captain (Strother Martin
Strother Martin
Strother Martin was an American actor in numerous films and television programs. Martin is perhaps best known as the prison "captain" in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, where he uttered the line, "What we've got here is...failure to communicate."-Early life:Strother Martin Jr. was born in Kokomo,...

). Luke is revealed to be a decorated World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 veteran, and is initially known to the other prisoners as "Lucas War-Hero." Luke fails to observe the established pecking order among the prisoners and quickly runs afoul of the prisoners' de facto leader Dragline (George Kennedy
George Kennedy
George Harris Kennedy, Jr. is an American actor who has appeared in over 200 film and television productions. He is perhaps most familiar as the convict Dragline in Cool Hand Luke , airline troubleshooter Joe Patroni in the Airport series of disaster movies from the 1970s and...

). The pair spar, with the prisoners and guards watching. Although Luke is severely outmatched by the larger Dragline, he repeatedly refuses to stay down and eventually Dragline refuses to fight further. Luke suffers a beating but wins the respect of Dragline and the rest of the prison population. Later, Luke wins a poker
Poker
Poker is a family of card games that share betting rules and usually hand rankings. Poker games differ in how the cards are dealt, how hands may be formed, whether the high or low hand wins the pot in a showdown , limits on bet sizes, and how many rounds of betting are allowed.In most modern poker...

 game on a bluff
Bluff (poker)
In the card game of poker, a bluff is a bet or raise made with a hand which is not thought to be the best hand. To bluff is to make such a bet. The objective of a bluff is to induce a fold by at least one opponent who holds a better hand. The size and frequency of a bluff determines its...

 with a worthless hand. Luke comments that "sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand," and Dragline gives him the nickname "Cool Hand Luke."

After a visit from his mother and nephew (Eddie Rosson), he becomes more optimistic about his situation. Despite the brutal conditions within the camp, including hard physical labor and extended time in "the box" (a harsh solitary confinement
Solitary confinement
Solitary confinement is a special form of imprisonment in which a prisoner is isolated from any human contact, though often with the exception of members of prison staff. It is sometimes employed as a form of punishment beyond incarceration for a prisoner, and has been cited as an additional...

 used to punish disobedient prisoners), Luke demonstrates an unquenchable spirit and the other prisoners begin to idolize him, particularly after he wins a spur-of-the moment bet that he can eat fifty hard-boiled eggs in one hour. Luke continually circumvents the authority of the Captain and the prison-guard "Bosses" led by Boss Godfrey (Morgan Woodward
Morgan Woodward
Morgan Woodward is an American actor.He is probably best known for his recurring role in Dallas as Marvin "Punk" Anderson...

) and his sense of humor and independence in the face of incarceration prove contagious and inspiring to the other prisoners. This struggle for influence comes to a head when Luke leads the work crew in a seemingly impossible effort to complete a road-paving
Chipseal
Chip seal is a pavement surface treatment that combines a layer of asphalt with a layer of fine aggregate. In the United States, chip seals are typically used on rural roads carrying lower traffic volumes, and the process is often referred to as "asphaltic surface treatment"...

 job in a single day, in defiance of convention and expectations. Luke becomes recognized as a trouble-maker by the prison authorities. News of his mother's death reaches Luke and the Captain locks him in the box instead of sending him to work, anticipating that Luke might attempt escape in order to attend his mother's funeral. After this, Luke becomes determined to escape. After an initial escape attempt under the cover of a Fourth of July
Independence Day (United States)
Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain...

 celebration, he is recaptured by local police and fitted with leg irons to prevent further attempts. Upon Luke's returning, the Captain delivers a warning speech to the other inmates, beginning with the famous line, "What we've got here is failure to communicate.
What we've got here is (a) failure to communicate
The phrase "What we've got here is failure to communicate" is a famous line from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke.There are actually two close variants of the line that are spoken at different points in the film. Nuances of accent, delivery, and intonation aside, they are as follows:# "What we've got...

 Some men you just can't reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it... well, he gets it. I don't like it any more than you men."

Some time later, Luke makes another escape, this time visiting a nearby house where he uses an axe to remove his chain and curry powder to throw off the prison's tracking Bloodhound
Bloodhound
The Bloodhound is a large breed of dog which, while originally bred to hunt deer and wild boar, was later bred specifically to track human beings. It is a scenthound, tracking by smell, as opposed to a sighthound, which tracks using vision. It is famed for its ability to discern human odors even...

s. This escape is successful but short-lived. While free, Luke mails the prisoners a magazine that includes a photograph of him with two beautiful women, which is received with awe and delight. He is soon recaptured, beaten, and returned to the prison camp. As part of his punishment he is then fitted with two sets of leg chains. When he regains consciousness, Luke is annoyed by the prisoners' fawning and lashes out, revealing that the picture was a fake. At first the other prisoners are angry, but when, after a long stay in the box, Luke is forced to eat a giant pile of rice, the other prisoners help him finish. Luke's escapades seal him as a legendary figure in the eyes of the prisoners but the Captain sets out to break Luke's spirit. As punishment for his escape, he is required to dig a large hole of the same dimensions as a grave in the prison camp yard, then fill it in and repeat the process, and is mercilessly beaten as his comrades look on with horror. Finally, an exhausted Luke collapses in his hole and begs the bosses for mercy and not to be hit again as the other prisoners watch from the windows of the bunk house. Believing Luke finally to be broken, the Captain allows Luke to stop and go inside. Luke is hauled back into the bunk house where he struggles to his bed alone. Ashamed by Luke's capitulation to the Captain, the prisoners begin to lose their idealized image of Luke. One prisoner pulls out the magazine with Luke's picture in it and tears it up.

Though seemingly broken in spirit, Luke takes one last stab at freedom when he gets the chance to steal the guards' truck. Dragline jumps in the truck with Luke and they drive off. They travel until at night near a church, Luke tells Dragline that they should split up. Saddened and regretful, Dragline thanks Luke as they part and Luke enters the church. Here, Luke decides to talk with God, who he believes made him the way he is and is sabotaging him so he cannot win in life. Luke prays and asks God what he should do but gets no reply. Moments later, police cars arrive outside. Dragline re-enters and tells Luke that he made a deal with the bosses that they won't hurt them if they surrender peacefully. Luke, knowing better, moves to an open window, quotes the Captain's famous line from earlier ("What we've got here is a failure to communicate") and is immediately shot in the neck by Boss Godfrey. A distraught Dragline hauls him outside and attacks Godfrey but is stopped by the other men. The sheriff (Rance Howard
Rance Howard
Rance Howard is an American actor who has starred in film and on television.-Life and career:Howard was born Harold Rance Beckenholdt in Oklahoma, the son of Ethel Cleo and Engel Beckenholdt, a farmer. He changed his name to "Rance Howard" when he became an actor. He married Jean Speegle Howard...

) then says that he's made a call to the local hospital, but the Captain insists on taking him to the prison hospital. When the sheriff says that it's an hour's drive away and that Luke would never survive, the Captain merely says that "He's ours." Luke smiles weakly as the car drives off.

Later, Dragline and the other prisoners reminisce about Luke, who in death has regained all the adulation he lost among the prisoners and become a mythic hero. Dragline describes Luke's unique smile as scenes of Luke's escapades flash across the screen. The final image is the now-repaired picture of Luke and the two women, before the screen fades to black.

Cast



  • Paul Newman
    Paul Newman
    Paul Leonard Newman was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, professional racing driver and auto racing enthusiast...

     as Luke Jackson
  • George Kennedy
    George Kennedy
    George Harris Kennedy, Jr. is an American actor who has appeared in over 200 film and television productions. He is perhaps most familiar as the convict Dragline in Cool Hand Luke , airline troubleshooter Joe Patroni in the Airport series of disaster movies from the 1970s and...

     as Dragline
  • J.D. Cannon as Society Red
  • Lou Antonio
    Lou Antonio
    Lou Antonio is an American actor and TV director best known for performing in the films Cool Hand Luke and America, America...

     as Koko
  • Robert Drivas
    Robert Drivas
    Robert Drivas was an American actor and theatre director.Drivas was born Robert Choromokos in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Hariklia and James Peter Choromokos. Drivas studied at the University of Chicago and the University of Miami...

     as Loudmouth Steve
  • Strother Martin
    Strother Martin
    Strother Martin was an American actor in numerous films and television programs. Martin is perhaps best known as the prison "captain" in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, where he uttered the line, "What we've got here is...failure to communicate."-Early life:Strother Martin Jr. was born in Kokomo,...

     as Captain
  • Jo Van Fleet
    Jo Van Fleet
    Jo Van Fleet was an American theatre and film actress.-Career:Van Fleet established herself as a notable dramatic actress on Broadway over several years, winning a Tony Award in 1954 for her skill in a difficult role, playing an unsympathetic, even abusive character, in Horton Foote's The Trip to...

     as Arletta
  • Clifton James
    Clifton James
    George Clifton James is an American actor. He is probably best known for his role as the bumbling Sheriff J.W. Pepper alongside Roger Moore in the James Bond films Live and Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun and his role alongside Sean Connery in The Untouchables .-Personal life:James was...

     as Carr
  • Morgan Woodward
    Morgan Woodward
    Morgan Woodward is an American actor.He is probably best known for his recurring role in Dallas as Marvin "Punk" Anderson...

     as Boss Godfrey
  • Luke Askew
    Luke Askew
    Luke Askew is an American actor best known for his role in the 1969 film Easy Rider.Askew was born in Macon, Georgia. He made his film debut in Otto Preminger's Hurry Sundown , but was first noticed as an actor for his role in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke...

     as Boss Paul
  • Marc Cavell as Rabbitt
  • Richard Davalos
    Richard Davalos
    Richard Davalos is an American actor.Davalos was born in New York City, New York, of Finnish and Spanish descent. Davalos starred in East of Eden as James Dean's brother and portrayed the convict Blind Dick in Cool Hand Luke...

     as Blind Dick
  • Robert Donner
    Robert Donner
    Robert Donner was an American actor who made many appearances in television series and films in a career spanning more than 40 years.-Early life and career:...

     as Boss Shorty

  • Warren Finnerty
    Warren Finnerty
    Warren Finnerty was an American actor best known for his Obie award-winning performance in The Connection . After making his film debut in Murder, Inc. , he made a few television appearances before starring in the film adaption of The Connection , reprising his role from the stage production...

     as Tattoo
  • Dennis Hopper
    Dennis Hopper
    Dennis Lee Hopper was an American actor, filmmaker and artist. As a young man, Hopper became interested in acting and eventually became a student of the Actors' Studio. He made his first television appearance in 1954 and appeared in two films featuring James Dean, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant...

     as Babalugats
  • John McLiam as Boss Keen
  • Wayne Rogers
    Wayne Rogers
    William Wayne McMillan Rogers III is an American film and television actor, best known for playing the role of 'Trapper John' McIntyre in the U.S...

     as Gambler
  • Andre Trottier as Boss Popler
  • Dean Stanton
    Harry Dean Stanton
    Harry Dean Stanton is an American actor, musician, and singer. Stanton's career has spanned over fifty years, which has seen him star in such films as Paris, Texas, Kelly's Heroes, Dillinger, Alien, Repo Man, The Last Temptation of Christ, Wild at Heart, The Green Mile and The Pledge...

     as Tramp
  • Charles Tyner as Boss Higgins
  • Ralph Waite
    Ralph Waite
    Ralph Waite is an American actor, whose most notable role was playing John Walton Sr. on the 1970s CBS TV series The Waltons, which he also occasionally directed...

     as Alibi
  • Anthony Zerbe
    Anthony Zerbe
    Anthony Jared Zerbe is an American stage, film and Emmy-winning television actor. Notable film roles include the post-apocalyptic cult leader Matthias in The Omega Man, a 1971 film adaptation of Richard Matheson's 1954 novel, I Am Legend; Milton Krest in the 1989 James Bond film Licence to Kill;...

     as Dog Boy
  • Buck Kartalian  as Dynamite
  • Joe Don Baker
    Joe Don Baker
    Joe Don Baker is an American film actor, perhaps best known for his roles as a Mafia hitman in Charley Varrick, deputy sheriff Thomas Jefferson Geronimo III in Final Justice, real-life Tennessee Sheriff Buford Pusser in Walking Tall, brute force with a badge detective Mitchell in Mitchell, James...

     as Fixer
  • Joy Harmon
    Joy Harmon
    Joy Patricia Harmon is a baker and former American actress.-Career:Harmon was born Patricia Joy Harmon in Flushing, New York...

     as The Girl, Lucille


Reception


Upon its initial release, Bosley Crowther
Bosley Crowther
Bosley Crowther was a journalist and author who was film critic for The New York Times for 27 years. His reviews and articles helped shape the careers of actors, directors and screenwriters, though his reviews, at times, were unnecessarily mean...

 wrote an NYT Critic's Pick review, saying "what elevates this brutal picture above the ruck of prison films and into the range of intelligent contemplation of the ironies of life is a sharp script by Donn Pearce
Donn Pearce
Donn Pearce is an American author best known for the novel and screen play Cool Hand Luke.Born Donald Mills Pearce in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pearce left home at 15. He attempted to join the United States Merchant Marine at 16, but was turned away due to his age. He lied about his age,...

 and Frank R. Pierson
Frank R. Pierson
Frank Romer Pierson is an American screenwriter and film director.-Life and career:Pierson was born in Chappaqua, New York, the son of Louise , a writer, and Harold C. Pierson, an entrepreneur. Pierson attended Harvard. He got his break in Hollywood when he penned a script for the television...

, ruthlessly realistic and plausible staging and directing by a new man. Stuart Rosenberg
Stuart Rosenberg
Stuart Rosenberg was an American film and television director whose notable works included the movies Cool Hand Luke , Voyage of the Damned , The Amityville Horror , and The Pope of Greenwich Village .-Early life and career:Born in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, Rosenberg studied Irish...

, and splendid acting by Paul Newman
Paul Newman
Paul Leonard Newman was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, professional racing driver and auto racing enthusiast...

 and a totally unfaultable cast"; besides Newman, Crowther commended Kennedy's "powerfully obsessive" depiction of the "top-dog who handles things his way as effectively and finally as destructively as does the warden or the guards" and Jo Van Fleet, "who, in one scene, in which she comes to visit him propped up in the back of a truck, does as much to make us comprehend the background and the emotional hang-up of the loner as might have been done in the entire length of a good film." Variety magazine said the "versatile and competent cast maintains interest throughout rambling exposition to a downbeat climax."

The Toronto Star
Toronto Star
The Toronto Star is Canada's highest-circulation newspaper, based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Its print edition is distributed almost entirely within the province of Ontario...

, in a 2007 home video review, said the film's anti-establishment message fit well with the mood of the 1960s. All of the forty-four reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes is a website devoted to reviews, information, and news of films—widely known as a film review aggregator. Its name derives from the cliché of audiences throwing tomatoes and other vegetables at a poor stage performance...

, including six top critics, gave the film a positive review, citing a 100% 'Fresh' rating.

Awards and honors


Cool Hand Luke won an Academy Award
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

 for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry. Since its inception, however, the...

 (George Kennedy), and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Academy Award for Best Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

 (Paul Newman), Best Music, Original Music Score
Academy Award for Original Music Score
The Academy Award for Original Score is presented to the best substantial body of music in the form of dramatic underscoring written specifically for the film by the submitting composer.-Superlatives:...

 and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium
Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay
The Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay is one of the Academy Awards, the most prominent film awards in the United States. It is awarded each year to the writer of a screenplay adapted from another source...

.

In 2003, AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains is a list of the 100 greatest screen characters chosen by American Film Institute in June 2003. It is part of the AFI 100 Years… series. The series was first presented in a CBS special hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger...

 rated Luke Jackson as the number 30 greatest hero in American Cinema, and four years later, AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers
100 Years…100 Cheers: America's Most Inspiring Movies is a list of the most inspiring films as determined by the American Film Institute. It is part of the AFI 100 Years… series, which has been compiling lists of the greatest films of all time in various categories since 1998...

: America's Most Inspiring Movies rated Cool Hand Luke number 71. Cool Hand Luke was included in the United States National Film Registry
National Film Registry
The National Film Registry is the United States National Film Preservation Board's selection of films for preservation in the Library of Congress. The Board, established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, was reauthorized by acts of Congress in 1992, 1996, 2005, and again in October 2008...

 in 2005. Luke has also been ranked number 53 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters".

American Film Institute
American Film Institute
The American Film Institute is an independent non-profit organization created by the National Endowment for the Arts, which was established in 1967 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act...

 Lists
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies - Nominated
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills - Nominated
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains:
    • Luke Jackson - #30 Hero
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
    • "What we've got here is failure to communicate." - #11
  • AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores
    AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores
    Part of the AFI 100 Years… series, AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores is a list of the top 25 film scores in American cinema. The list was unveiled by the American Film Institute in 2005.-The List:-External links:**...

     - Nominated
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers - #71
  • 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) - Nominated

Famous line

What we've got here is failure to communicate
What we've got here is (a) failure to communicate
The phrase "What we've got here is failure to communicate" is a famous line from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke.There are actually two close variants of the line that are spoken at different points in the film. Nuances of accent, delivery, and intonation aside, they are as follows:# "What we've got...

. Some men you just can't reach. So you get what we had here last week. Which is the way he wants it. Well, he gets it. And I don't like it any more than you men.


The line is frequently taken as "What we've got here is a failure to communicate." Both are correct. This line is heard twice in the film, first in its entirety, with no "a", by the Captain (Strother Martin
Strother Martin
Strother Martin was an American actor in numerous films and television programs. Martin is perhaps best known as the prison "captain" in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, where he uttered the line, "What we've got here is...failure to communicate."-Early life:Strother Martin Jr. was born in Kokomo,...

), and later on the first line with an "a", said by Luke. In the "making of" feature on the Blu-ray disk, Frank Pierson, the screenplay's co-writer, says that the line "just appeared" on the page as he was typing (that is, it was the result of his subconscious thought). After some debate over whether it was "too intellectual" a remark for the Captain, it was retained.

Strother Martin himself recalled in the book, Films of the Sixties, that he felt the line was one which his character, would very likely have heard or read, from some "pointy-headed intellectuals" that had begun to infiltrate his character's world in the 1960s, under the general rubric of a new, enlightened, approach to incarceration.

The quote was listed at #11 on the American Film Institute
American Film Institute
The American Film Institute is an independent non-profit organization created by the National Endowment for the Arts, which was established in 1967 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act...

's list
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes
Part of the AFI 100 Years... series, AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes is a list of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema. The American Film Institute revealed the list on June 21, 2005, in a three-hour television program on CBS...

 of the 100 most memorable movie lines.

Soundtrack



The original score
Film score
A film score is original music written specifically to accompany a film, forming part of the film's soundtrack, which also usually includes dialogue and sound effects...

 was composed by Lalo Schifrin
Lalo Schifrin
Lalo Schifrin is an Argentine composer, pianist and conductor. He is best known for his film and TV scores, such as the "Theme from Mission: Impossible". He has received four Grammy Awards and six Oscar nominations...

. An edited version of the musical cue from the Tar Sequence has been used for many years as the news music package on several television stations' news programs around the world, mostly those owned and operated by ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

; this cue was first used in 1968 on WABC-TV
WABC-TV
WABC-TV, channel 7, is the flagship station of the Disney-owned American Broadcasting Company located in New York City. The station's studios and offices are located on the Upper West Side section of Manhattan, adjacent to ABC's corporate headquarters, and its transmitter is atop the Empire State...

 in New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 for their Eyewitness News
Eyewitness News
Eyewitness News is a style of news broadcasting used by local television stations in different markets across the United States. It refers to a particular style of television newscast with an emphasis on visual elements and action video...

newscast and was subsequently imported to ABC's other television properties. Nine Network
Nine Network
The Nine Network , is an Australian television network with headquarters based in Willoughby, a suburb located on the North Shore of Sydney. For 50 years since television's inception in Australia, between 1956 and 2006, it was the most watched television network in Australia...

's Nine News & WIN Television
WIN Television
WIN Television is an Australian television network owned by the WIN Corporation that is based in Wollongong, New South Wales. WIN commenced transmissions on 18 March 1962 as a single Wollongong-only station, and has since expanded to 24 owned-and-operated stations with transmissions covering a...

's WIN News
WIN News
WIN News is a local television news service in parts of regional Australia, produced by WIN Television. 20 regional bulletins are presented from studios in Wollongong, Canberra, Ballarat, Rockhampton, Toowoomba, Mount Gambier, Hobart and Perth.-History:As well as its flagship nightly...

in Australia, NBN Television
NBN Television
NBN Television is a television station based in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. The station was inaugurated on 4 March 1962 as the first regional commercial television station in New South Wales, and has since expanded to 39 transmitters throughout the northern half of New South Wales and...

's NBN News in Northern NSW
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

, and Network Ten
Network Ten
Network Ten , is one of Australia's three major commercial television networks. Owned-and-operated stations can be found in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, while affiliates extend the network to cover most of the country...

's Ten Eyewitness News (1960s-1994) still uses an edited version of the music, as does Radio Tonga
Radio Tonga
Radio Tonga is Tonga's main commercial radio station, founded in 1961 by Queen Salote Tupou III, and operating as a service of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission . Its slogan is "The Call of the Friendly Islands"...

 in the Kingdom of Tonga and RPN
Radio Philippines Network
Radio Philippines Network, Inc. is a broadcast television network in the Philippines co-owned by the Government Communications Group, Solar Entertainment Corporation, Far East Managers and Investors Inc., and private sectors. This station studios are located at Broadcast City, Old Balara, Capitol...

's NewsWatch
NewsWatch (Philippine TV program)
RPN NewsWatch in the Philippines is the longest-running English language flagship newscast of the Radio Philippines Network. It has a complicated history, undergoing many name changes.-Broadcast chronology:...

in the Philippines. Although the music originated from this film, to this day many people associate the tune with television news as opposed to the film itself. Frank Gari, who created many news music packages, recorded an arrangement of the Tar Sequence in 1983 as News Series 2000.

Adaptations


The book has been adapted into a West End play by Emma Reeves. Cool Hand Luke opens at London's Aldwych Theatre
Aldwych Theatre
The Aldwych Theatre is a West End theatre, located on Aldwych in the City of Westminster. The theatre was listed Grade II on 20 July 1971. Its seating capacity is 1,200.-Origins:...

 on 3 October, 2011 starring Marc Warren
Marc Warren
Marc Warren is an English actor, known for his British television roles as Danny Blue in Hustle, Dougie Raymond in The Vice and Dominic Foy in State of Play.-Career:...

.