Parents' Guide to

Cool Hand Luke

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Paul Newman classic about rebellion and conformity.

Movie NR 1967 127 minutes
Cool Hand Luke Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 10+

Oustanding classic. Individual grit, leadership & integrity. Newman @ top of his game.

This is a great film -- Hollywood doesn't make films like this one anymore. Film about principal and community & 'espirt de 'corp'... In a way its a lot like Lawrence of Arabia ....Luke is an ex-military hero who sees through the lies and who doesn't want to conform to society's rules and regulations. VIOLATION and STOP figure prominently as do some subtle themes throughout the film. The genius in the film is a combination of the authentic chain gan realism and the character adeptly portrayed by Newman himself... Highly recommended!
age 11+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (3 ):

Released in the anti-establishment days of 1967, this popular and critical success is not an entirely polished masterpiece, but certainly still inspires and works even decades later. The uninspired, draggy direction by Stuart Rosenberg (The Amityville Horror) is arguably the movie's biggest flaw, dragging the movie out a bit too long and hammering points a bit too hard. But other elements click into place beautifully, including the sharp screenplay by Frank R. Pierson (Dog Day Afternoon) and novelist Donn Pearce. Newman is at his best, playing a likable outcast, cheerfully bucking authority; he earned one of nine acting Oscar nominations for his work.

The rest of the cast is equally memorable, especially Kennedy, who won a Supporting Actor Oscar as the bull-sized prisoner who isn't so tough as he looks, and Martin, whose "what we got here is failure to communicate" speech is still quotable. Jo Van Fleet is amazing in her one scene as Luke's mother (she also played James Dean's mother in East of Eden). The movie also hosted early parts for such actors as Harry Dean Stanton, Dennis Hopper, and Joe Don Baker. Conrad L. Hall's widescreen cinematography beautifully captures the shimmering heat, and aids in the appealingly disconnected way the story is told. Ultimately, Cool Hand Luke is all about rebellion and conformity, with the end message being that a middle ground is most realistic.

Movie Details

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