Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Fifty hard-boiled eggs
I was 10 years old, and I didn't trust my dad's insistence that Cool Hand Luke would be the VHS that we'd be taking home from Hollywood Video. I hadn't seen any commercials for it on TV, nobody at school had talked about it, and I couldn't fathom enjoying a movie with characters in it that none of my neighborhood friends could pretend to be whenever we'd play Make Believe in the angry neighbor's yard (everybody knows that's the best yard to play Make Believe in). I understood, though, that I'd always picked out the movie in the past, and that it seemed very important to my dad that I see this film. I was beginning to grow into a young man, and he knew it was time for me to learn who Paul Newman was.
As far as enjoying movies went, Cool Hand Luke changed everything for me. I'd watched each Star Wars film approximately 80 times in the past few years, and this was Han eating 50 eggs and dying from a bullet to the neck. There was no Luke coming to save him from Jabba's lair. It was a character whose fate actually resembled his flaws, the sort of brutally honest consequence that no previous film in my childhood had provided. And I ate it up.
I didn't spend the days after watching Cool Hand Luke pretending to be Luke in games of Make Believe; I sat wondering why he cut down those parking meters in the first place, never quite coming to a proper conclusion, only an understanding that I didn't need to know why – and neither did Luke, for that matter.
The next time we picked out a movie at Hollywood Video, I didn't try and argue with my dad when he recommended that we take home Duck Soup. I'd learned he had the better taste in movies.
May 30-31, Stateside: Thursday, 7:15pm; Friday, 9:30pm