Movie Review: Cool Hand Luke, One of Film’s First Anti-Heros

By Julian Box

In a time of rebellion during the 1960’s, Cool Hand Luke was a movie for the people. Paul Newman plays the main role of Luke in the movie and is the epitome of the anti-hero,  a loner type who wants to go against “the man” but who is easy to love from the fan’s point of view.  

The movie starts off with Luke, drunk and vandalizing parking meters, where he is picked up by the cops then sent to a Florida prison camp. When he arrives, he keeps to himself for the most part but doesn’t seem to be making any friends with the few snide remarks he makes. He does seem like he’s ready to be complacent with the system, going about his business. This ends very quickly as, after a few days of getting accustomed to the work, he challenges the biggest guy in the prison to a boxing match. 

The fight with Dragline seems over almost as soon as it starts, but Luke wouldn’t give up. Luke continued to fight even though he was clearly beaten, but he was able to earn the respect of everyone there with this tactic. When he went into the common area after the fight, Dragline invited him to the poker game where he kept the game going until the pot was full.  When everyone finally folded, Luke revealed that he had, in fact, nothing in his hand. This is when he gives the very memorable quote, “Sometimes nothing is a real cool hand,” and this is when he was given the nickname Cool Hand Luke.

After this, Luke becomes very popular with the other inmates, giving them a  boost in mood. After this, one of the most memorable scenes in this movie and maybe of all time, Luke declares to everyone that he can eat 50 hard-boiled eggs in under an hour. Almost nobody believes him, and soon the bets are in, with almost everyone betting against him.  The notable exception is his newfound friend Dragline. Luke is able to eat every egg and seems to be about to explode, but this episode shows once again his determination and why he is so loved. 

Luke soon becomes frustrated with this life he is living trapped inside of this prison and seeks a way to escape. This is where the movie gets interesting, but if you want to know what happens after this, you are going to have to see the movie yourself.

From start to finish, this is one of the best movies I have ever seen, and I would recommend it to everyone. This movie was one of the first to implement the idea of the anti-hero, and it changed the way the “bad guy” was seen in movies forever. Paul Newman was able to shine a new light on heroism and the many ways it can be portrayed. This classic movie is Paul Newman's best work and seems like a good representation of his entire career.