Cool Hand Luke (1967) - Rotten Tomatoes

Cool Hand Luke (1967)



Critic Consensus: Though hampered by Stuart Rosenberg's direction, Cool Hand Luke is held aloft by a stellar script and one of Paul Newman's most indelible performances.

Movie Info

Paul Newman was nominated for an Oscar and George Kennedy received one for his work in this allegorical prison drama. Luke Jackson (Paul Newman) is sentenced to a stretch on a southern chain gang after he's arrested for drunkenly decapitating parking meters. While the avowed ambition of the captain (Strother Martin) is for each prisoner to "get their mind right," it soon becomes obvious that Luke is not about to kowtow to anybody. When challenged to a fistfight by fellow inmate Dragline (George Kennedy), Luke simply refuses to give up, even though he's brutally beaten. Luke knows how to win at poker, even with bad cards, by using his smarts and playing it cool. Luke also figures out a way for the men to get their work done in half the usual time, giving them the afternoon off. Finally, when Luke finds out his mother has died, he plots his escape; when he's caught, he simply escapes again. Soon, Luke becomes a symbol of hope and resilience to the other men in the prison camp -- and a symbol of rebelliousness that must be stamped out to the guards and the captain. Along with stellar performances by Newman, Kennedy, and Martin, Cool Hand Luke features a superb supporting cast, including Ralph Waite, Harry Dean Stanton, Dennis Hopper, Wayne Rogers, and Joe Don Baker as members of the chain gang.more
Rating: PG
Genre: Drama, Classics, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Donn Pearce, Frank R. Pierson, Frank Pierson
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 3, 1997
Warner Bros.


Paul Newman
as Lucas Jackson
J.D. Cannon
as Society Red
Jo Van Fleet
as Arletta
Robert Drivas
as Loudmouth Steve
Dennis Hopper
as Babalugats
Morgan Woodward
as Boss Godfrey
Luke Askew
as Boss Paul Hunnicut
Marc Cavell
as Rabbitt
Richard Davalos
as Blind Dick
Wayne Rogers
as Gambler
Harry Dean Stanton
as Edgar "Tramp" Potter
Robert Donner
as Boss Shorty
John McLiam
as Boss Kean
Charles Tyner
as Boss Higgins
Joy Harmon
as The Girl
Norman Goodwins
as Stupid Blondie
John Pearce
as John Sr.
Eddie Rosson
as John Jr.
Rush Williams
as Patrolman
James Jeter
as Wickerman
Rance Howard
as Sheriff
Dick Davalos
as Blind Dick
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Cool Hand Luke

Critic Reviews for Cool Hand Luke

All Critics (47) | Top Critics (7)

Stuart Rosenberg's direction is a horror, but the cast teems with so many familiar faces that this 1967 film can't help but entertain.

Full Review… | April 23, 2009
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A picture of chilling dramatic power.

Full Review… | August 22, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Newman gives an excellent performance, assisted by a terriffic supporting cast, including George Kennedy, outstanding as the unofficial leader of the cons who yields first place to Newman.

Full Review… | July 22, 2008
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

A tough, honest film with backbone.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

As this 'Southern' turns up the heat, the sense of sadistic oppression, of being looked down on by 'the man,' swelters and burns. The glowering sun eclipses the convict in its hellfire glow. Newman/Luke's knowing smile, though, burns on.

Full Review… | June 26, 2015
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

Audience Reviews for Cool Hand Luke

What elevates this engaging drama to a remarkable ode to nonconformity is definitely Paul Newman's intense performance and its taut, compelling script, which both compensate for the story's exceedingly slow-moving pace and Rosenberg's inept direction.

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer


While the movie seems to have worked wonders for most, I wasn't so lucky to be one of those. That's not to say that I didn't like it altogether. Just didn't enjoy it enough as expected. Found it mediocre in almost every major department, be it scripting, acting, dialogues or screenplay. Give it a shot; may turn out to be worth your while. Even otherwise, it's not an absolute waste. Watch it (of course, at your own risk) and arrive at your own sound verdict.

familiar stranger

Super Reviewer


Though the film has flaws, the performances by Newman and the whole cast are just amazing.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

Cool Hand Luke Quotes

Lucas (Luke) Jackson: Calling it a job don't make it right, boss.
– Submitted by Micah S (2 years ago)
Carr: One in the box, one in the bush.
– Submitted by Greg H (2 years ago)
Fixer: [just after Luke ate fifty eggs] No man can eat fifty eggs.
– Submitted by Dermit Z (3 years ago)
Boss Paul: Now I can be a nice guy, but if you trouble me, I can be a mean son of a bitch.
– Submitted by Mark A (4 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss Cool Hand Luke on our Movie forum!