Monday, May 14, 2007

The ultimate 'Unsuitable Role Model'

Or perhaps two 'unsuitable role models' in one.

I was watching Cool Hand Luke again last night, and was overwhelmed by how profoundly it resonates with me, by the renewed realisation of how much I idolize Paul Newman and his role here as Luke.

Then again, you may ask what's unsuitable about Paul Newman? A formidable actor as well as being breathtakingly good-looking, with a stable and long-lasting marriage, also a talented racing driver and pool player, and having forged successful secondary careers as a motor racing team owner and the founder of a huge agriculture & food business. Who wouldn't be Paul Newman, if they had the chance??

'Cool Hand' Luke, on the other hand..... For all his inspiring qualities - courage, determination, stubbornness, charisma, independence - he is ultimately something of a loser: he doesn't know what he wants from life, and finds no place to 'fit' in the world; his instinctive rejection of authority condemns him to a perpetually marginalized, unsatisfied existence. I had forgotten (after a decade or more without seeing it) just how bleakly despairing the end of the film is, how suicidal is his final confrontation with the 'bosses'.

Yes, I too am perversely stubborn, irreverent, and rebellious, often self-destructively so. I too celebrate non-conformity, but occasionally rue the fact that this is what has left me drifting, rootless, impoverished and alone. I am, I fear, every bit as much a loser in life as poor Luke. I just wish I could be one-tenth as COOL.


Anonymous said...

your writing is getting succinct. a sign of the busy work schedule? a sudden disinclination to write in-depth commentaries?

or you'd rather just be outside playing?

cuz, I know you have more to say about Cool Hand Luke than this post and the one on the sister blog!

Froog said...

Succinct is good. I should do it more often. I had been beginning to worry that I had lost the knack of it!

Anonymous said...

succint is good for haikus.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
KingTubby said...

Flick thru your site and came to the Cool Hand Luke entry. Tremendous. What a film. Saw it on the day it was released and usually check it out every ten years. Chock full of allegory and also captured the spirit of the times. Quotable dialogue to die for. Many excellent reviews to be found on the net. Try these great historical photos, which I enjoyed distributing to friends a few years ago.

The late sixties and seventies were truly a period of greatness in American cinema.

Taking it off, boss.
Take it off, Dragline.

Froog said...

Thanks for that link, Tubby.

I worry that Cool Hand Luke is drifting into obscurity amongst the younger generation. For anyone born in the 50s, 60s, or 70s it is a defining statement of counter-culture rebellion, and quite clearly one of the best - if not the best - prison movies ever made.

Anyone much under 35 tends to nominate Shawshank Redemption for that accolade - which makes me want to go out and commit acts of random violence.

Funnily enough, my end-of-the-month movie post over on my other blog (already planned some days ago) is on 'Favourite Prison Movies'.