You probably might not have noticed but there were lots of small details that were used as the film’s imagery and symbols. One of these small details was the traffic signs that complemented what the characters were going through.
In the opening scene, the word “violation” appears while Luke is seen vandalizing the parking meters. The stop lights turning from green to red also indicated some foreshadowing when Luke was finally arrested for vandalism. This was also used at the end of the movie when Luke was fatally injured.
More Religious Imagery
More messianic and religious imagery was used in the film including Luke's prison number, 37. The very clever film decision of naming the character Luke with his prison number as 37 makes the relation to Luke 1:37, a bible scripture that reads, "For with God nothing shall be impossible."
Such small details really make the story and meaning so seamless as even the bible verse is tied perfectly to the overall message of the film. With his Christ-like behavior, Cool Hand Luke truly lives out the scripture.
The film really made some box office mojo as it grossed $16.2 million at the domestic box office. Such success definitely paid off as the producers allotted an insane amount of $3.2 million for the film's budget!
The success was so tremendous that it was even spelled out in the film's reviews. Aside from the famous Rotten Tomatoes scoring it a perfect 100%, film critic Roger Ebert gave the film the highest rating possible! Critics also dubbed Paul Newman’s performance as “unforgettable.”
The Single Non-Fan
Paul Newman already had all the recognition and fame before the film came out as he starred in many other award-winning films prior to Cool Hand Luke. As such, he was no stranger when he visited West Virginia, with dozens of fans taking notice of his familiar charming face.
Though practically everyone knew who Paul Newman was, there was a particular lady who seemed to be completely oblivious of his fame. While he was with businessman Andy Houvouras, he accompanied Andy to pick up his daughter from school. Introduced to a nun in St. Joe High School, Newman was actually asked what his profession was. Nothing special, Sister!
A Unique Criminal Offense
As you already know, Cool Hand Luke gets himself put on a pedestal when he claims that he was imprisoned for cutting off the head of parking meters. Though extremely odd and extraordinary, this mischievous act actually helped him gain a unique bond with his inmates. According to Luke, it was done for the purpose of “setting an old score.”
His chain gang mates were so impressed with how unique Luke's crime was that they actually considered him to be an interesting addition to the gang. Because of how much the audience could relate to Luke and his hatred for parking meters, the film creates this personal connection with its viewers.