The long hot summer is coming to a close, and who but Paul Newman could bring in those halcyon late days of early September for us? This Friday, August 4, 2009, The Tacoma Film Club will screen the classic chain gang opus, COOL HAND LUKE (1967). It was directed by Stuart Rosenberg. It was his feature film debut. Jack Lemmon’s production company, Jalem, worked with a slim budget, and hired Rosenberg fresh from nearly a decade of directing television, racking up 137 one hour episodes on dozens of series. They filmed the movie in California, north of Stockton, and trucked in tons of Spanish moss from Louisiana to give it a more Southern flavor. They built the entire prison camp set, over a dozen buildings, and they were so realistic that an actual building inspector stopped by to look at them one day and condemned three of them for not being up to state code. Rosenberg directed for fifty years, and after LUKE, he gave us WUSA (1970, THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN (1973), THE DROWNING POOL (1975), BRUBAKER (1980) & THE POPE OF GREENWICH VILLAGE (1984). He had won an Emmy in 1961, and a Director’s Guild Award for COOL HAND LUKE (1967). Rosenberg went on to be a teacher at AFI, and one of his students was Darren Aronofsky.
Don Pearce co-wrote the screenplay from his novel, based on his true life exploits in a prison camp. He was one of the very few people who did not like the movie, and who felt that Paul Newman was miscast as Luke. Award-winning cinematographer, Conrad Hall, shot the film, showing us the punishing heat of the location, where shirts stick to the skin, and dust sticks to everything. COOL HAND LUKE was nominated for (4) Oscars, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Musical Score (Lalo Schifrin), and Best Cinematography. George Kennedy won one for Best Supporting Actor. Once again, Paul Newman was overlooked; the actor who brought us THE HUSTLER, HOMBRE, HARPER, & HUD.
Luke, at the church: “Old Man, you made me like I am–where am I supposed to fit in?” Roger Ebert wrote, “Luke collapsing on the table after eating 50 eggs takes the posture of Christ on the cross. At the end, where he talks to God in the church, was he ready to be martyred, to die for the sins of his fellow inmates?” Ebert added, “This is a powerful punishing movie that only Paul Newman could have pulled off–with his physical presence, those innocent blue eyes, his unwavering stamina in the face of chaos and pain, and most of all–that smile.” Tagline: Sometimes “Nothing” can be a real cool hand.
Dragline: “My Luke….you wild an beautiful thing!”
COOL HAND LUKE (1967) @ 126 minutes. Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
The film stars Paul Newman, George Kennedy, J.D.Cannon, Strother Martin, Morgan Woodward, Dennis Hopper, Lou Antonio, Robert Drivas, Jo Van Fleet, Wayne Rogers, Anthony Zerbe, Luke Askew, Robert Donner, Harry Dean Stanton, Ralph Waite, Clifton James, and Joe Don Baker. Synopsis: This is an irreverent tale of a modern day prison camp and chain gang. Luke is a loner, who won’t, or can’t conform or bend to the arbitrary rules of his captivity. This is a top-notch movie full of humor, tragedy, cruelty, compassion, and dramatic grand story-telling—that sets the benchmark for any other film of this genre. As his pal, Dragline said, “Old Luke was a natural-born world shaker.” Tagline: His crime: nonconformity. His sentence: the chain gang.
So join us this Friday, August 4, 2009 at the Center for Spiritual Learning, located at 206 North J Street in Tacoma, on the corner of Division and J streets. Please come early and enjoy the confab and fellowship downstairs in the kitchen area of CSL. The Phantom Director and Farishta will create another in the long line of fantastic entries. They will be serving at 6:10pm. We will continue to have raffle tickets available for those who want to win some cash or a terrific DVD film. Those wonderful folks who also bring along extra fare, like wine, bread, cheese, and desserts–bless your hearts and pass the strudel, please. There will be a short film shown promptly at 7pm, followed by the raffle, a few laughs, and the intro for the main feature. COOL HAND LUKE will screen immediately after. The film is 2 hours and 6 minutes, so we should be completed by 10pm. See you at the Movies!!