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Where Was Cool Hand Luke Filmed?

December 31, 2020
3 min read

‘Cool Hand Luke,’ directed by Stuart Rosenberg, is an American prison drama that introduces a criminal, Luke Jackson (Paul Newman), whose unprecedented ways take everybody by storm after he enters a Florida prison farm. He gets sentenced to two years of jail-time, during which he encounters different personalities like an extremely sadistic warden (Strother Martin) and the yard’s toughest member, Dragline (George Kennedy).

Luke’s ability to take matters into the palm of his hands makes him a compelling presence among his fellow convicts and a difficult one for the prison officers. His non-conformist attitude relays a sense of lightheartedness to the general tone of the movie filmed in expansive stretches of land under the sun. Imitating a southern prison farm, the frames mostly comprise grassy lands filled with prisoners serving their time. Let’s find out where the movie was filmed.

Cool Hand Luke Filming Locations

‘Cool Hand Luke’ was filmed in the fall of 1966 in California. Shooting started on October 3, 1966, and wrapped up on December 14, 1966. Although the prison farm is based in Florida, the production used a stand-in set. Let’s find out more about the filming process.

Stockton, California

The movie was filmed in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The setup, imitating a southern prison farm, was conjured in Stockton. They meticulously incorporated a list of structures including barracks, a mess hall, a guard shack, dog kennels, and the warden’s personal confines. They brought in Spanish moss for an increased effect which was placed on the trees.

At some point, the set was mistaken to be a migrant worker housing facility and was accidentally declared as the subject of a code violation. The opening scene where Luke tampers with the parking meters before getting busted was filmed in Lodi. Other scenes were filmed in the San Joaquin Valley, situated to the south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, and the Warner Brothers Studios at 4000 Warner Boulevard, Burbank.

Jacksonville, Florida

‘Cool Hand Luke’ is based on a book of the same name written by Donn Pearce. Pearce admitted that the book is loosely inspired by the time he spent as a prisoner at the Tavares Road Prison. The crew, during filming, took a trip to the institution in Tavares where Pearce had served his sentence. Photographs were taken, and specifications were established. The resulting setup was then established in Stockton, California. However, a few exterior scenes were shot at the Callahan Road Prison in Jacksonville, including the one where Luke is chased by a cluster of dogs. Interestingly, these dogs were taken from the Florida Department of Corrections.

Read More: Best Prison Escape Movies of All Time

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