‘Life’s a single pilgrim, fighting unarmed amongst a thousand soldiers’

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Road Prison 36 Warden [Strother Martin]: “You’re gonna get used to wearin’ them chains after awhile, Luke. Don’t you never stop listening to them clinking ’cause they gonna remind you of what I’ve been saying for your own good.” Decorated World War II veteran Luke Jackson [Paul Newman], unfairly sentenced to a Florida chain gang after drunkenly removing parking meters, mockingly replies after being recaptured, “I wish you’d stop being so good to me, Captain.” Warden: “Don’t you ever talk that way to me. Never! Never! What we’ve got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can’t reach…” After being viciously knocked down a barren embankment by the stereotypical Southern warden, the existentialist hero may be bruised, but his indomitable soul remains intact in “Cool Hand Luke,” director Stuart Rosenberg’s finest film issued on November 1, 1967. Rosenberg would go on to helm three more Newman pictures of diminishing quality through 1975 — “WUSA” [featuring Anthony Perkins and Newman’s Oscar-winning wife Joanne Woodward], “Pocket Money” with Lee Marvin, and “The Drowning Pool.” In the background from left to right are Martin and guards Robert Donner and Luke Askew. Image Credit: Cinematography by Conrad L. Hall / Warner Bros. / screen grab
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“Come on, get up!” Obviously demonstrating that his days as a pipsqueak are over, slender 5-foot-10-inch trail boss Matt Garth [Montgomery Clift] is bloodied and battered but nevertheless undeterred in spirit as he faces macho, revenge-seeking cattle mogul-stepfather Tom Dunson [John Wayne] in director Howard Hawks’ masterful western “Red River.” Finally distributed on September 17, 1948, two years after filming was completed — among other setbacks, Howard Hughes sued over similarities to the finale of Jane Russell’s cleavage-baring “The Outlaw” — the crowd-pleasing epic was the 26-year-old original Method actor’s debut celluloid performance although director Fred Zinnemann’s post-World War II Berlin “The Search” hit theaters first. And yeah, Tom Cruise is a doppelgänger for Clift. Image Credit: Cinematography by Russell Harlan / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Blu-ray.com / screen grab

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Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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