A Cool HandPosted: October 7, 2008
But first some background: My running buddy and fellow priest Patrick Ward is a movie buff. Since he’s got about 16 years on me, he’s always bemoaning the fact that I’m about a generation behind on classic movies. I admit I’m a bit lacking in this area. Okay a lot. Sure I’ve seen Casablanca and I love The Caine Mutiny. I think I saw Easy Rider.
But every time he mentions a scene from, say, The Bridge on the River Kwai, while we’re out on the trails I have to hang my head and fess up that I have no idea what he’s talking about. So he’s taken it upon himself to round out my classic film education. I believe he sees it as his “bounden duty” (whatever that means).
After one of our usual Thursday morning 6-milers, he initiated my remedial education by handing me a copy of “Cool Hand Luke” starring a young Paul Newman. Newman died later that day which was slightly eerie.
I waited a couple of weeks, until I was alone in a hotel room in Newark, to watch it. And while I usually don’t hang out by myself in Newark hotel rooms (I was there for a Provincial Council meeting, thank you very much), it did feel like the perfect place to watch it. If you haven’t seen it, it is a great movie – the story of a chain gang in the rural south – and it’s full of Christological imagery. Not the scene with Joy Harmon; but Newman’s character is a true Christ-like figure for the other inmates. And it’s where the line “What we have here is a failure to communicate” came into the lexicon.
The education will continue, I’m sure.