-Captain, Road Prison 36
Few movies have caught and inspired the mindset of the public so well as Cool Hand Luke. And even fewer of those films remain fresh and relevant today. Cool Hand Luke is a movie that was rebellious in every way. From its plot, to music, to cinematography, it broke old rules and has truly made its mark on American film.
First, the cinematography. This is easily in my top ten most beautifully shot films list. It hardly looks forty years old. The camera work isn't just beautiful, its innovative. Few movies have been this inventive with their cinematography. The film cuts between extreme closeups to extreme (and symbolic) long shots, with some breathtaking shots dollying in between the two.
The plot features a central character who is an antihero and a Christ figure (whoops, spoilers). He is the opposite of a traditional Hollywood hero. When confronted with a challenge he always takes it, but doesn't always win. He doesn't even conform to the Hollywood bad guy cliche, as he went to prison for disabling parking meters, something that seems insignificant when compared with the crimes of his bunk mates.
With all the recent remakes and adaptations coming from Hollywood (and more on the way), we can see that the American movie industry is running out of ideas and imitating its previous successes (as it always has). When Cool Hand Luke came out, it broke many of the formulaic molds of the movie industry. In the light of the rather uncreative Hollywood of today, Cool Hand Luke still feels like a breath of fresh air. Cool Hand Luke challenged the status quo of filmmaking in its own era and continues to do so today. If only we had more films like that.