DVD Review: Cool Hand Luke: Deluxe edition

Warner Home Video
Release date: September 9, 2008
MSRP: $19.98

Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Stars: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin, Lou Antonio

What we got here… is a failure to communicate.
That is one of the most legendary lines in film history. Even seeing the line in print brings Struther Martin’s voice into my head.

Unlike some “classic” films, Cool Hand Luke holds up over time. Sitting down with this, I was afraid that my mind had elevated CHL to a level it did not deserve…my fears were unfounded as it is every bit as good as I remembered.

Luke Johnson is a prisoner on a southern chain gang. Luke refused to be broken, and escapes more than once. While he is respected by the prisoners, the guards and warden obviously want to break him.

CHL got star Paul Newman an Oscar nomination, and co-star George Kennedy took home the statue for Best Supporting actor.

We are treated to a new documentary, A Natural-Born World Shaker: Making Cool Hand Luke. This doc features comments from director Stuart Rosenberg, Newman biographer Eric Lax, Donn Pearce (author of the source novel), Hank Moonjean (asst. director), Lalo Schifrin (composer)as wekk as cast members George Kennedy, Lou Antonio, Joy Harmon, Ralph Waite, Anthony Zerbe and others.

There is also a commentary track with Lax. This is, unfortunately, not that great. A lot of it is covered in the doc and Lax wanders into the realm of hero-worship more than a few times.

But the extras are not the reason to own this, Cool Hand Luke is a true classic and well worth the price.

With the recent passing of Mr. Newman, this is an excellent chance to experience the serious mojo he had and to revisit one of his finest films.

Order Cool Hand Luke from Amazon.

For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.