Cool Hand Luke
Cool Hand Luke has been one of my favorites since High School, when one of our teachers showed it in class. Starring Paul Newman as Luke, it is about a man who refuses to break or to lose who he is, in spite of a lot of bad luck and terrible circumstances.
The film also stars George Kennedy, who was in dozens of movies in the 60's and 70's, including the Dirty Dozen. Luke is a free spirit, disillusioned and spit out by the Vietnam War, who is arrested for vandalizing a parking meter in a drunken act of defiance. But he refuses to be cowed by the draconian prison sentence or the sadistic guards.
Luke gets his nickname from a bluffed poker hand he won, saying "Sometimes nothin' is a real cool hand..." Perhaps the most iconic line from the movie comes from the Prison Work Crew boss when he evilly announces to the prisoners "What we have here, is a failure to communicate" as he fits Luke with leg irons after one of many failed escape attempts.
Another iconic scene that inspired many copycats is when Luke has to fight George Kennedy's character, who is the toughest of the inmates, and sort of "leader", after he first arrives in the prison camp. Though he is no match, he refuses to stay down, allowing himself to be pummeled until the bigger man has no choice but to admire his courage.