Cool Hand Luke DVD: Review By B. Alan Orange

A classic film that has been beautifully restored for our modern age.
  • Feature
  • Picture
  • Sound
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
The new digital transfer is a huge step up from the previous release. This classic character study still offers some of the greatest performances ever captured on film. If you are looking to be entertained, you'll never go wrong with this amazing masterpiece from 1967.
Great performances, a great script, and a picture clarity that can't be beat, you'd have to look long and hard to find a problem with this Disc. Even the special features are pretty special. A great Deluxe Edition.
Cool Hand Luke is an old-fashioned character study, the likes of which aren't made any more. There really isn't a story here. This is more about a person, and his reactions to a system that hasn't treated him fairly. After watching so many films that are plot heavy, it might take a moment to get into this calm wave of existential nothingness. Weighing heavy on its weak narrative spin is a collection of outstanding performances that make this one worth your time and energy. Paul Newman stars as a war hero that exited the army the same way he went in: a buck private. He is picked up on charges of public drunkenness and destroying government property (the film opens with a great shot of Newman cutting the tops off of parking meters). He is sent to prison camp, and its there that he enthralls the other emanates with his unwavering determination. He even befriends the prison bad guy Dragline (George Kennedy, who won an Oscar for the role) after a knock out boxing match that finds Luke continually back to his feet, even though he has been beaten to near unconsciousness. Soon after this harrowing scene, Luke and Dragline are waging a beat with the other inmates that Luke can eat fifty hard-boiled eggs in an hour's time. It is one of the film's most popular scenes, and it is rendered here in beautiful digital perfection. You can almost feel Paul Newman's gut about to burst through the screen. The last half of the movie finds Luke attempting to make numerous escapes. He succeeds in each one, but keeps getting caught, and beat, and reformed. Most of the inmates lose their confidence in the man once he seems to conform to prison life. Right when you think he's lost his will to live free, the man highjacks a prison truck and hightails it away from the scene with Dragline in tow. If you've seen Paul Newman's classic Western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, then you might have an inkling as to how this epic ends. Through a series of striking images and the use of Conrad Hall's beautiful cinematography, director Stuart Rosenberg sets Luke up as a Christ-like being. And that idea resonates through the entire piece. This is the film that gave us Strother Martin's classic line, "What we have here is...Failure to Communicate." And it turned Newman into a star. If you don't own Cool Hand Luke already, you'll want to purchase a copy. And yes, if you do already own the old version, it's worth the fifteen bucks to upgrade, simply for the newly digitized and restored transfer of the film alone.
Eric Lax, a film historian and Paul Newman biographer, offers up a very insightful and entertaining audio commentary throughout the film. There is also a thirty-minute doc*mentary on the making of Cool Hand Luke that contains great interviews from all involved. And we get the original theatrical trailer. While there aren't too many special features for a so-called Deluxe Edition, it's the quality that counts. And this is stuff you'll actually want to watch after the film is over. It's really quite good.
The film has been digitally restored and has never looked better. This is miles beyond the images seen on the original issue of the disc from a few years back.
All of the audio elements have also been restored. The film is presented in Dolby Digital English: Mono as well as French: Mono.
Iconic and inviting, Warner Brothers did a great job of putting this new DVD together. The colors are warm and cool, just like the photo of Paul Newman that adorns the front sleeve. The back sleeve is just as gorgeous. It offers one sole picture of Newman and Strother Martin in a signature pose. This is a great bit of box art that will spruce up that old DVD shelf quite nicely. I say, toss out your old copy or use it for a beer coaster.
This iconic piece of 1960s filmmaking has never looked or sounded better. Like I said, if you already own the film, it wouldn't hurt to upgrade with this new set. This Deluxe Edition is a gorgeous gem to behold. And it might just be one of the best reissues of the year. Cool Hand Luke is a classic, and if you don't have it as part of your DVD collection, you're kind of a douche

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Comments (3)

  1. Fallenlords

    A sad day, I just found out Paul Newman has died at the age of 83. Perhaps in some way this is a fitting tribute to a Hollywood Legend.

    6 years agoby @fallenlordsFlag

  2. Fallenlords

    Excellent film and a nice review.

    7 years agoby @fallenlordsFlag

  3. ed_wood

    One of the greatest films ever made. Great review, I need to go buy this one.

    7 years agoby @ed-woodFlag