With just a look and a smile Paul Newman sizzled on the screen. There is no greater example of not only his leading man charm, but his acting ability as the 1967 classic Cool Hand Luke.
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The film was nominated and won a slew of awards, including a Best Supporting Actor for George Kennedy. However, it was the message of the film that resonated with audiences. The never give up attitude that Luke shows in the movie jived with the time period of “sticking it to the man.”
One of the most popular parts of the movie is the famous “egg eating” scene. Where Paul Newman’s character Luke eats a large number of hard boiled eggs in a short time. 200 eggs were brought in for the scene, though due to some Hollywood magic Newman himself only ate eight of them. The rest of the eggs were eaten by the cast and crew. Stories from the people there said the next few days on set were horrific as the eggs gave everyone horrible gas.
The effect of the filming had a lot of real life consequences as well. The opening of the film shows Luke cutting the heads of parking meters on the street. The real street that was filmed on didn’t replace the meters and for years after the films completion you could go and see the bare metal poles that Paul Newman cut the tops off of. Not only that, but the scene that saw the chain-gang were tarring a road, the actors actually tarred over a mile of real road for the county. Talk about authenticity.
The film is a masterpiece from start to finish with some of the best acting of Newman’s career. The menace of Morgan Woodward’s Boss Godfrey made the character one of the most despised movie villains of all time. The actor reportedly never broke character either and would spend time between takes sitting in a chair and not speaking to anyone.
It was the commitment of the cast and crew that made this film one of the greatest of all time. If you haven’t watched it lately, it might be time to get back to the chain-gang and hand out with Cool Hand Luke.