Cool Hand Luke appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Expect a simply fantastic image here.
Sharpness appeared strong. A couple wide shots came with a smidgen of softness – related to the source – but the vast majority of the movie appeared accurate and concise.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and edge haloes remained absent. Grain felt light but natural, and no print flaws appeared.
Colors came across as fairly clear and acceptably full. The film tended toward a dry, brownish palette, and the disc reproduced this in a good manner.
Within the photographic style of the flick, there was only so much life that could come from the hues, so I thought they were fine within those constraints. HDR added spark to the tones when possible.
Black levels looked deep and rich, while shadow detail appeared appropriately opaque but not excessively heavy. HDR gave extra impact to whites and contrast. The 4K delivered a terrific rendition of the film.
I found the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack to be acceptable. The audio seemed consistently decent but unexceptional. Dialogue was a bit thin and flat but sounded easily intelligible and articulate.
Music was fairly bright and clear and also boasted some modest low end at times. Effects generally came across and accurate and crisp. I found the soundtrack of Luke to provide a presentation typical of the era.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the 2008 Blu-ray? Though the 4K came with a lossless soundtrack – vs. the lossy Dolby Digital 1.0 of the BD – the two felt pretty similar. The DTS-HD MA version showed a little more range but it couldn’t do much with 56-year-old material.
On the other hand, the 4K offered obvious visual upgrades, as it became more accurate and showed richer blacks and colors. The BD worked fine but the 4K easily topped it.
As we hit the 4K’s extras, we find an audio commentary from film historian Eric Lax. He provides a running, screen-specific track that examines the source novel and its adaptation, cast and crew, sets and locations, story, themes and interpretation, score and cinematography, and some production tales.
Lax provides an erratic commentary that improves as it progresses. During the early parts, he tends to narrate the film at times, and some dead air mars the proceedings.
However, he discusses the movie in a stronger manner as it goes, so we find better insights during the flick’s second half. We still encounter lulls, but Lax turns this into a reasonably informative piece by the end.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we find a documentary called A Natural-Born World-Shaker: Making Cool Hand Luke. In this 28-minute, 46-second show, we hear from Lax, director Stuart Rosenberg, writer Frank R. Pierson, novelist Donn Pearce, assistant director Hank Moonbeam, composer Lalo Schifrin, and actors Ralph Waite, George Kennedy, Clifton James, Lou Antonio, Anthony Zerbe, and Joy Harmon.
The program looks at the novel’s path to the big screen, how Rosenberg came onto the project, some story and thematic notes, cast, characters and performances, some scene specifics, music and cinematography, the movie’s reception and its legacy.
“World-Shaker” offers a pretty good complement to the commentary. A few of the some notes appear here, but we learn plenty of new facts about the film’s creation. Of course, the absence of Paul Newman disappoints, but this becomes a useful program nonetheless.
The package also provides a Blu-ray copy of the film. It replicates the original 2008 BD and comes with the same extras as the 4K.
Cool Hand Luke isn’t just a film with an anti-hero: it’s pretty much anti-everything. This is a movie packed with dysfunctional, flawed characters – and it’s darned fascinating due to those choices. The 4K UHD features terrific picture, era-appropriate audio, and a few informative extras. Luke remains an excellent movie, and this 4K UHD presents it well.
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