Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Real Cool Hand - Part 1

It is Saturday night in the barracks of a small Forida prison where a gang of prisoners assigned to daily road work is watching KOKO and LUKE play poker.  Every other player has already folded.  DRAGLINE keeps offering advice to KOKO. GAMBLER also chimes in.

Earlier in the day DRAGLINE, who dislikes LUKE, called him out, taking advantage of the WARDEN's policy of allowing prisoners who have a grudge with one another to box out in the yard.  DRAGLINE is bigger and stronger than LUKE, who barely landed a blow on DRAGLINE and kept getting knocked to the ground.  The prisoners who circled around the two fighters egged DRAGLINE on.  But as a bloody, exhausted LUKE repeatedly got up after each blow, the attitude of the prisoners changed. They began to urge LUKE to stay down. But LUKE continued to stagger to his feet, again and again, until DRAGLINE, puzzled, finally quit the fight. He could not bring himself to hit LUKE again, and thus LUKE won an odd kind of victory.

The fight continues to resonate during the evening poker game.  LUKE holds two hole cards, one of them a king.  DRAGLINE keeps urging KOKO to stay in.  LUKE repeatedly raises the stakes with the casual statement, "Kick a buck," hardly bothering to glance at each dollar.  By prison standards a dollar is a lot of money.  DRAGLINE repeatedly urges KOKO on.  But LUKE's casual, automatic "Kick a buck" starts to become unnerving.  Finally this exchange occurs: 


Sure he's got kings but you still gotta call him.

KOKO looks back to DRAGLINE.


Man's got a pair o' kings, get your tail out.

KOKO folds. LUKE reaches for the pot at the same time that DRAGLINE reaches for Luke's cards.


Nothin'! A handful of nothin'!

(cuffs KOKO)

You stupid mullet-head. He beat you with nothin'! Just like today when he kept coming back at me - with nothin'.

LUKE (smiling)

Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.

Cool Hand Luke (1967; dir. Stuart Rosenberg)
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