AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Cool Hand Luke
Director: Stuart Rosenberg (Dir)
Release Date:   1967
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 1 Nov 1967
Duration (in mins):   126
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Cast:   Paul Newman (Luke Jackson)  
    George Kennedy (Dragline)  
    J. D. Cannon (Society Red)  
    Lou Antonio (Koko)  
    Robert Drivas (Loudmouth Steve)  
    Strother Martin (Captain)  
    Jo Van Fleet (Arletta)  
    Clifton James (Carr)  
    Morgan Woodward (Boss Godfrey)  
    Luke Askew (Boss Paul)  
    Marc Cavell (Rabbitt)  
    Richard Davalos (Blind Dick)  
    Robert Donner (Boss Shorty)  
    Warren Finnerty (Tattoo)  
    Dennis Hopper (Babalugats)  
    John McLiam (Boss Kean)  
    Wayne Rogers (Gambler)  
    Dean Stanton (Tramp)  
    Charles Tyner (Boss Higgins)  
    Ralph Waite (Alibi)  
    Anthony Zerbe (Dog Boy)  
    Buck Kartalian (Dynamite)  
    Joy Harmon (Girl)  
    James Gammon (Sleepy)  
    Joe Don Baker (Fixer)  
    Donn Pearce (Sailor)  
    Norman Goodwins (Stupid Blondie)  
    Chuck Hicks (Chief)  
    John Pearce (John Sr.)  
    Eddie Rosson (John Jr.)  
    Rush Williams (Patrolman)  
    James Jeter (Wickerman)  
    Robert Luster (Jabo)  
    Rance Howard (Sheriff)  
    James Bradley Jr.    
    Cyril "Chips" Robinson (Negro boys)  

Summary: Luke Jackson is arrested for unscrewing the tops from a row of parking meters while on a drunken spree in a small Southern town. After the trial, he is sentenced to 2 years of labor on a chain gang. A loner who maintains his aloofness even while working in the blazing sun, Luke soon antagonizes another prisoner, Dragline, the acknowledged leader of the chain gang. The tension between the two men mounts until they finally have a fight in which Dragline beats Luke but is unable to make him give up. Luke's skill at poker, plus his refusal to break under pressure from the sadistic guards, win him the respect of Dragline and the admiration of the other inmates. A short time after Luke receives a farewell visit from his dying mother, a telegram arrives informing him that she is dead. Unable to bear his confinement, Luke saws a hole in the floor under his bunk and escapes; but he is captured, brutally beaten, and put in ankle chains. Undaunted, he breaks out again but is recaptured. Every effort is made to break his will, and he is bludgeoned and overworked until he begs the guards for mercy. Upon seeing Luke betray the myth of the indomitable hero, the other men treat him with contempt. Then, without warning, he escapes in a dump truck, followed by Dragline. Taking refuge in a church, Luke sends Dragline away and attempts to settle his score with God. Partly out of love for Luke, partly out of fear for his own safety, Dragline returns with the guards. Rather than surrender, Luke stands before a window and shouts his defiance until he is silenced by a bullet. The hysterical Dragline is beaten into submission and then returns to the chain gang where he perpetuates the legend of Cool Hand Luke. 

Production Company: Jalem Productions, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Warner Bros.--Seven Arts, Inc.  
Director: Stuart Rosenberg (Dir)
  Hank Moonjean (Asst dir)
Producer: Gordon Carroll (Prod)
  Carter DeHaven Jr. (Assoc prod)
Writer: Donn Pearce (Scr)
  Frank R. Pierson (Scr)
Photography: Conrad Hall (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Cary Odell (Art dir)
Film Editor: Sam O'Steen (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Fred Price (Set dec)
Costumes: Howard Shoup (Cost des)
Music: Lalo Schifrin (Mus)
Sound: Larry Jost (Sd)
Make Up: Gordon Bau (Makeup supv)
  Jean Burt Reilly (Supv hairstylist)
Production Misc: Arthur S. Newman Jr. (Unit mgr)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the novel Cool Hand Luke by Donald Pearce (New York, 1965).
Authors: Donald Pearce

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Jalem Productions 27/7/1967 dd/mm/yyyy LP35742

Physical Properties: col: Technicolor
  Widescreen/ratio: Panavision

Genre: Drama
Subjects (Major): Chain gangs
  Family relationships
  Prison escapes
  Prison guards

Note: Location scenes filmed in the San Joaquin River Delta area near Stockton, California. 

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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