Box art for Cool Hand Luke

Cool Hand Luke


When Luke Jackson is arrested for drunkenly vandalizing parking meters, he is sentenced to serve time on a prison chain gang.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 14
    see all Cool Hand Luke reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Newman remains watchable and glamorous throughout, bloody, muddy or coated in torso-flattering sweat, but the film's efforts to sentimentally "humanize" him by psychological revelation are clumsy.

- Bill Weber, Slant Magazine, Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fresh: That traditional object of sorrow and compassion in American folk song and lore, the chain-gang prisoner, is given as strong a presentation as ever he has had on the screen.

- Bosley Crowther, New York Times, Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Fresh: The lines and the character have survived the film's oft-forgotten actual message.

- Chris Cabin,, Saturday, October 18, 2008

Audience Reviews

5 stars

Not even the clear sky itself is as blue as Paul Newman's eyes. Good Lord almighty... I REALLY liked this! Good spirit about it! Good Never-Give-Up attitude. I think this is the greatest prison movie (maybe even above Shawshank Redemption). Great story, fun and serious, very well acted and some amazing sunset shots!! Fantastic!

- MeetMeinMontauk, Tuesday, December 28, 2010

4 stars

Suave, smooth, and oh so nice, Paul Newman is a mix of Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, and Stanley from Streetcar Named Desire. The wheels in his head turn on pure hatred for his life, his sentence, his friendships however needed they may be. He's desperate from the beginning, and now jailed in some backwoods chain gang situation. Escape is the only plausible solution, and he grabs onto it for his life, pulling it to him ever the more slowly.

- FrizzDrop, Tuesday, November 16, 2010

4 stars

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.

- blacksheepboy, Monday, September 30, 2013