COOL HAND LUKE (1967)

Luke Jackson is a cool, gutsy prisoner in a Southern chain gang, who, while refusing to buckle under to authority, keeps escaping and being recaptured. The prisoners admire Luke because, as Dragline explains it, “You’re an original, that’s what you are!” Nevertheless, the camp staff actively works to crush Luke until he finally breaks. The movie’s line “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” was voted as the #11 movie quote by the American Film Institute. Luke’s prison number (37) is a reference to the Bible – Luke 1:37. (“For with God nothing shall be impossible.”) Anthony Zerbe’s film debut. In the “road-tarring” sequence, the actors actually blacktopped a mile-long stretch of highway for the county. Jack Lemmon was the owner of Jalem Productions, which co-produced many of his films as well as Cool Hand Luke. The opening scene, where Luke is cutting off the heads of parking meters, was filmed in Lodi, California. After the filming, the city did not replace the meters, and for many years afterward, you could go there and see a block long row of metal posts, sans meters. A Southern prison camp was built for this movie just north of Stockton, California. A dozen buildings were constructed, including a barracks, mess hall, warden’s quarters, guard shack, and dog kennels.

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