truly great film. rosenberg wasn’t really a great filmmaker, but he was capable and was working with great people here. the cast does a brilliant job with a great script, but conrad hall (american beauty, road to perdition, marathon man, butch cassidy and the sundance kid) is the most underrated member of the crew. his cinematography is visionary and works well with the material. luke is a christ-like figure, but he is more nietzschean than he is christian. he demands that people “stop feeding off” him and wants only to inspire, not to lead. really, though, he does both. he shifts the brutality and “yessir boss” attitude of the camp into one that coalesces around an egg eating competition rather than weekly boxing matches. the subservient attitude which once permeated the group is replaced by one of self-impowerment and community. to me, luke is probably the most inspirational of all film characters. he’s a nearly unflappable non-conformist whose power, panache, and charm are undeniable. newman’s role here has always felt similar to mcqueen’s role in the great escape and it’s for this reason that i always compare the two actors. overall, i think i prefer mcqueen, but newman’s performance here is unmatched by mcqueen or, for that matter, almost anyone in the history of cinema. my favorite line: “Boss: Sorry, Luke. I’m just doing my job. You gotta appreciate that. Luke: Nah – calling it your job don’t make it right, Boss.” on paper this line doesn’t play all that well, but in the context, and with newman’s delivery, it’s a powerfully defiant mantra that highlights a melancholy truism.
1967: graduate, cool hand luke, bonnie and clyde, in the heat of the night, branded to kill, dirty dozen…they don’t make ’em like they used to.Watched in theater