MRR's Movie of the Week: Five Memorable Quotes from "Cool Hand Luke"

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
January 16th, 2013

MRR's Movie of the Week: Five Memorable Quotes from "Cool Hand Luke"

-- "Cool Hand Luke" is a classic American prison drama film from 1967, directed by Stuart Rosenberg. Starring Paul Newman, the movie follows the story of Luke, a prisoner on a Southern chain gang, who refuses to be beaten by the system. Newman plays an anti-hero whom audiences root for. Although the movie is a drama, it has a certain witty charm about it. The film has many memorable moments as well as notable quotes, some of which are amusing while others are filled with irony or have a dramatic effect. The following list contains five of the greatest quotes from "Cool Hand Luke."

"Nothin'. A handful of nothin'. You stupid mullet head. He beat you with nothin'. Just like today when he kept comin' back at me-with nothin'." -Dragline
"Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand." -Luke

In one of the better-known poker scenes in cinema history, Luke beats the rest of the prisoners with a bad hand of cards. He remains calm the entire time, contemplating his hand while enjoying a bottle of soda. He continually raises the stakes until everyone folds, and it is revealed that he has "Nothin'. A handful of nothin'."

"What we've got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it. Well, he gets it. I don't like it any more than you men." -Captain

There is no doubt that this quote is the most memorable from the movie. It comes as a bit of a surprise when the mild-mannered Captain suddenly starts beating Luke with a whip, sending him rolling downhill after fitting him with chains on his ankles. Of course, it can be said that Luke had it coming, after smarting off to the Captain. The Captain's sudden outburst of violence is quickly smoothed over with his calm, reasonable justification to the rest of the prisoners, but the only one fooled by the Captain's explanation seems to be the Captain himself.

"Any man playing grab-ass or fightin' in the building spends a night in the box." -Carr

Upon Luke's arrival to the Southern prison camp where he is to serve the next two years, Carr, the heavily built, cigar-smoking "floor walker" prattles off to the new inmates a long list of rules, all of which are punishable by spending a night "in the box" if not followed correctly. Luke, of course, can't help smirking and chiming in, immediately getting off on the wrong foot with Carr, who remarks, "I hope you ain't going to be a hard case."

"My Lord, whatever I done, don't strike me blind for another couple of minutes." -Dragline

Dragline, played by George Kennedy, is the big, respectable, smart, somewhat oafish leader of the inmates until Luke unwittingly takes the title from him. In this scene, the chain gang is out digging a ditch when a pretty blonde girl engages in the sensually portrayed act of washing her car. Luke tells the other inmates that she knows exactly what she's doing-trying to drive them crazy-but that doesn't stop the men from ogling and enjoying the view.

"Nobody can eat fifty eggs."

Luke, ever the nonconformist, declares to the other inmates one afternoon that he can eat fifty eggs. When they scoff at his audacity, it fuels a bet. Paul Newman tackling the obstacle of choking down fifty hard-boiled eggs in one hour is one of the funniest, most memorable scenes in "Cool Hand Luke," although almost painful to watch. Every inmate in the prison camp gathers around to take part of the wager, pouring all their money into the betting pool while gawking in disbelief as Luke undertakes the seemingly impossible task. Those betting for Luke cheer him on when his belly is full to almost popping, and by the end of the egg ordeal, Dragline has to practically cram the last of the eggs down Luke's throat. Luke swallows the fiftieth egg just as the timer runs out. He wins all the money in the prison camp but is left in a nearly comatose state. When asked why he chose the number fifty, he replies that he thought it was a "nice, round number."

"Cool Hand Luke" is a classic, featuring Paul Newman at his best. The aforementioned quotes are just the tip of the iceberg, as the film is packed with memorable lines and notable scenes to accompany them. "Cool Hand Luke" is a must-see for any movie-lover, particularly those who are fond of classic cinema or who appreciate the talent of Paul Newman.