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

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  • Audience Score

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

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    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

4 stars

A solid prison film with some great performances from Paul Newman and George Kennedy. Well worth watching.

- rjayhutchinson, Friday, July 30, 2010

3 stars

One of the all-time icons of cinematic rebellion, Luke is thrown into a chain gang for two years when he gets drunk and decides to decapitate all of his small southern town's parking meters. His stubborn refusal to bow to the will of authority eventually makes him a hero to his fellow prisoners but a target to the brutal prison guards determined to break his spirit. Cool Hand Luke is a classic prison drama that has a strong message about subjugation and conformity and its effects on the human spirit. Luke is shown as a very likable but almost psychotically self-destructive obsessive whose total inability to defer to figures of authority (even god himself) makes him an almost legendary figure in the eyes of those less willful who vicariously experience his acts of rebellion to give them new hope. It's a character study of a man's blind rebellion against a system he did not make, always doomed to lose but unwilling to give up kicking against it. It's a film of real warmth, humour and passion, the centrepiece being Newman's fantastic performance which is one of the best of his career. Definitely up there with One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest as one the great stories of the underdog cocking a snoot at "The Man" and one of the finest prison dramas ever made. You'll never look at a boiled egg the way same again.

- garyX, Tuesday, February 1, 2011

5 stars

Incredible in every way. Paul Newman was amazing and Luke is one of my favorite characters. The story has such a powerful message about independence an hope. It's not just a prison movie, I wouldn't even classify it as that. It's a character piece, period. It shows you the soul of a man and never lets you forget it.

- ythelastman89, Thursday, January 7, 2010