CineFile: The Birth of Cool Hand

The emblematic performance of Paul Newman‘s career. The scene that gave the character his name. Too little recognized is Stuart Rosenberg‘s directing accomplishment, that gratifying work of assured artistry that only some journeymen get to achieve. Note here how the characters are arranged around the table, where and how Kennedy stands in relation to Newman, and just how Newman is placed, his face partly hidden from the other players, just like his hand. Note, too, the shadow on the left of his face when we see it full. And see if you can pick out all of the actors early in their careers who went on to greater success in film and television. Kennedy won best supporting actor. Newman created a legendary character and cemented his own.

“Sometimes nothin’ can be a real cool hand.”

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