Critic Reviews



Based on 11 critic reviews provided by
Luke is the first Newman character to understand himself well enough to tell us to shove off. He's through risking his neck to make us happy. With this film, Newman completes a cycle of five films over six years, and together they have something to say about the current status of heroism. But Cool Hand Luke does draw together threads from the earlier movies, especially Hombre, and it is a tough, honest film with backbone.
Paul Newman gives one of his best performances in this prison film, where he inspires life in to his fellow inmates. Has something important to say with several memorable moments and a superb supporting cast.
Mr. Newman is excellent, at the top of his sometime erratic form, in the role of this warped and alienated loner whose destiny it is to lose. George Kennedy is powerfully obsessive as the top-dog who handles things his way as effectively and finally as destructively as does the warden or the guards.
One of the sharpest prison dramas ever, although it's graced with some very humorous portions as well.
Newman gives an excellent performance, assisted by a terrific supporting cast, including George Kennedy, outstanding as the unofficial leader of the cons who yields first place to Newman.
Cool Hand Luke is a metaphor for the social climate in which it germinated. Luke represents that segment of the population who will not submit, no matter how viciously they are beaten. They repeatedly rise up, convinced not only of the rightness of their actions, but that, in the end, they can make a difference. In the midst of the burgeoning '60s cultural revolution, it's impossible to ignore.
Time Out London
A caustically witty look at the American South and its still-surviving chain gangs, with Newman in fine sardonic form as the boss-baiter who refuses to submit and becomes a hero to his fellow-prisoners. Underlying the hard-bitten surface is a slightly uncomfortable allegory which identifies Newman as a Christ figure. But this scarcely detracts from the brilliantly idiosyncratic script (by Donn Pearce from his own novel) or from Conrad Hall's glittering camerawork (which survives Rosenberg's penchant for the zoom lens and shots reflected in sun-glasses).
Too cool for words, then switches past midstream into a work of poignancy and power.
Paul Newman tells 'em where to get off in this slick, popular antiestablishment drama set in a prison camp. Stuart Rosenberg's direction is a horror, but the cast teems with so many familiar faces that this film can't help but entertain.
Slant Magazine
Newman remains watchable and glamorous throughout, bloody, muddy or coated in torso-flattering sweat, but the film’s efforts to sentimentally humanize him by psychological revelation are clumsy.

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