Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cool Hand Luke Chat

Tracy: I'm ready to talk Young, Shirtless, PN.
Tracy:  So I was struck the entire time by how much this movie reminded me of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Not sure which came out first, but we have this anti-establishment hero that wins over this group of institutionalized men (and objectifies women), and then is broken by the institution, but lives on in stories. And then I just kept thinking of movies it clearly influenced: Shawshank, Full Metal Jacket, Girl, Interrupted, etc. etc. That didn't hit me as hard when I watched it the first time. Probably because I was distracted by Young Shirtless PN.
Natalie:  The book actually mentions One Flew Over: "Compared to Nicholson's scenery-chewing performance in the oddly similar OFOtCN (1975), Newman in CHL is all subtle, knowing smiles and beaming confidence. Short on soliloquies, Newman's Luke doesn't telegraph his every move or even clarify his motives. He seems to almost have sought out prison as an arbitrary challenge, inviting a conflict with the system just to see if he can win." CHL is earlier, 1969, but Kesey's novel is 1962; the source material for CHL is 1965. So, it seems era-specific in terms of anti-establishment/anti-authoritarian and these men who both need and despise the system.
Young shirtless Paul Newman is distracting which made me think: Question: Does Paul Newman appear in any movie at the height of his career in which he keeps his shirt on and buttoned-up?
The Long Hot Summer (1958)--shirtless
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)--shirtless
The Young Philadelphians (1959)--sweaty wifebeater (close enough in the 50s)
Sweet Bird of Youth (1962)--shirtless
Harper (1966)--shirtless
Cool Hand Luke (1967)--shirtless most of the movie
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)--I can't remember . . .
Tracy:  Yeah, I was talking to my dad about this movie, and it seems like no accident it was in the late '60s and early '70s that anti-establishment movies struck a nerve. But it seems that now, if you're not a teenager, that strain has kind of dropped, and we're back to establishment heroes. I haven't really thought that through, but do you agree? Oh, and the Coen's clearly loved this movie -- O Brother has all sorts of nods to it that I didn't catch the first time. It's like CHL redone as comedy.
Hah! The studios knew their audience! But all of those were ultra-serious and complicated performances as well. He wasn't playing Jacob the Wolf. Is it possible to be shirtless and serious in the same way now?
Natalie:  Huh--I'd have to think more about establishment heroes . . .  Do you have examples? Oooh--O Brother is absolutely CHL as comedy minus the shirtless but with the sparkly-eyed, mischievous, handsome leading man.
Tracy:  And the dude with the mirrored glasses! And the having to get the chains cut off! Why didn't they replicated the shirtless? Sigh.
Natalie:  I don't think it's possible to shirtless and serious in the same way. Action heroes get to be shirtless but if Clooney had taken off his shirt in Descendants we would think it silly
Tracy:  As far as examples, I'm thinking of soldiers and cops being the heroes.
Natalie:  Oh! I read your sentence wrong and was trying to think of teenagers who were heroes within the system. But, yes! There are a ton of establishment heroes now.
Tracy:  Do you think it's because he was doing all these TN Williams plays where it was hot?
Natalie:  Maybe--filmmakers think you just keep your shirt off in the South.
Tracy:  Which is true, but it's usually the wrong people doing it. You know, I think Cormac McCarthy also owes something to this archetype--the man who will stand up even though the system will ultimately destroy him. Do you think Dragline deserved his Oscar?
Natalie:  That's hard for me to answer because the other nominees were in movies I've not seen save Cecil Kellaway in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. The others were: The Dirty Dozen: John Cassavetes, Bonnie and Clyde: Gene Hackman, Bonnie and Clyde: Michael J. Pollard.
Tracy:  Well, I think just about everyone in Bonnie and Clyde was overrated, and I can't remember that character in GWCtD. I thought he was fine, but I was surprised he won and not PN. I also liked the idea of passive resistance--when they beat the man by doing the job (tarring the road) super fast. I bet you could do a Foucouldian number on this flick.
Natalie:  The major sin is that Newman didn't win an Oscar until 1986 (Honorary). He won for acting in 1987 as Leading in Color of Money and Humanitarian in 1994. He was nominated 9 times; 3 times before this nod.
Natalie:  Nominated nine OTHER times, besides the win in 87
Tracy:  My dad thinks that the Color of Money was a make-up Oscar because he should have won for The Verdict but they had to give John Wayne the "you're about to die" Oscar that year.
Natalie:  HA! Well, they could have solved ALL of that by giving Newman the Oscar in 59 for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at his first nod. David Nivens won for Separate Tables.
Tracy:  Separate Tables? Is that even a movie? And you know, and brace yourself, I've never seen Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Or read it.
I hope we can still be friends.
Natalie:  Apparently. And it has all sorts of people  in it--Deborah Kerr, Rita Hayworth, Burt Lancaster--but who knows what that is now? I only know because I just clicked on the link in imdb. SIGH. I don't know if we can be friends. Description: :) You should at least watch it--especially since the list is STUPID and doesn't include it. Seriously, a million Busters and we don't get a classic Newman/Taylor?
Tracy:  It's not on there? Then I'll totally watch it! I was just waiting for its number to come up!
Natalie:  NO! The book doesn't include it. I'm shocked every single time I figure that out--but, remember?, we looked for it for the Taylor thing. So, basically, the book includes this one because of Newman. Seems it's as enamored of his shirtlessness and pretty eyes as we are (and, yeah, that the man could act).
Tracy:  Heh. The shirtlessness and pretty eyes transcend editorial (or sexual) preference. My dad (who's making a lot of appearances in this post) said "That man was good looking his whole life. I hate him."
Natalie:  HA! He was absurdly good-looking his entire damn life. And nice and good to people which makes it worse for the men-folk. It's interesting which movie chats your dad pops up in. I'm pretty sure my dad told me (forever and ever ago) to watch Cat and that got me hooked on Mr. Pretty Eyes Newman
Tracy:  Dads and Paul Newman. Both of our dads sort of remind me of Paul Newman. Not in a disturbing Electra kind of way, but in a bone structure kind of way.
Natalie:  Ha! I've never seen your dad in person but, yeah, seems both dads have the same sort of facial structure and leanness--and mischievous streak

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