Dir: Stuart Rosenberg (Murder Inc., Drowning Pool, Amityville Horror)
Man against The Man story with Paul Newman on a chain chang fighting the powers that be to preserve his manhood and dignity. Well tread thematic material, but great for the same reason that cliches become cliches; because they seem so true.
I had the opportunity to revisit this movie after many years. It was a favorite of mine from teenagehood, and has not dimished at all over these many years since. An entertaining blend of comedy and drama, with the American archetype of the cowboy doing right regardless of the lawless (or overly lawed) country that he finds himself in once again delivering the goods.
Riddled with famous scenes, such as the egg eating contest, sweet Lucille, and the mirrored sunglasses of the eyeless boss, this movie is worth watching just for the pop culture references. But it is also in that conversation of human spirit movies with the Great Escape, Papillon, Bridge on the River Kwai, and The Sand Pebbles, one of those movies that makes you want to accept martyrdom for principle. And, of course, the signature line from Cool Hand Luke "What we have here is a failure to communicate" would be used throughout the protests of the Vietnam War.
I recommend it highly. And George Kennedy is one of the best character actors of his time.