Silent Era Cool Hand Luke

This Return the Silent Era video remakes the 50 eggs eating contest in the 1967 classic prison camp movie Cool Hand Luke. On a sweltering stormy night, the prisoners are dreading the closing of the windows of the barracks as it will mean a sweaty night of misery. Luke (Paul Newman) takes the bunch off guard by flippantly suggesting he can eat fifty eggs. Even his biggest fan Dragline¬†(George Kennedy) finds it hard to believe this is possible. Soon a wager is born and the camp is again distracted from their suffering through Luke’s impishness and levity.

The contest scene takes about ten minutes in the movie and I was pretty sure I wanted to keep the silent version much shorter. So I decided to cut out most of the haggling over the rules of the bet as well as speed of the film. At times I made moments as much as 2.5x faster than the original footage, which quickened the pace but also reflected the unnaturally fast footage often seen in silent movies which were shot at frame rates lower than the 24fps standard of sound pictures.

Another hard decision was to choose which pieces of dialogue to place on title cards. The most important elements of time and the number of eggs eaten were included, as well as a number of Dragline’s colorful comments as he coached Luke through the contest. Also I hoped the Dueling Banjos soundtrack would provide an emotional substitute to a lot of lines.

I edited the film using Final Cut Pro and made the title cards in Photoshop. But I again found a good use for my iPhone as part of the process, similar to my recent discovery of using it in my designs. The 8mm app has some really awesome antiquing filters for video, including a ‘Noir’ and ‘1920’ filter. I ran the video through both filters.

Bouncing a three minute video at almost 100MB in size bacj and forth between the computer and the phone and then back again is little cumbersome but the effect I think makes it worth it. There’s even an included projector sound effect.


  1. I’m not sure if I want to know how much time this took to cut, splice, pass through the various filters, but it was worth every minute you spent! When I heard the first few pucks of the banjo on the second title slide I knew the “dueling banjos” was going to rock this clip!

    I’m seriously in awe of the amount of time it must have taken to cut this all together, especially the title slides towards the end, they were brilliant. The noise of the projector “clicking” in the background was the cheery on top of this piece, which really felt like it could easily have been produced in the silent era of film.

  2. Oh brother, you have taken this to a whole new dimension of creative power. HOLY S*****! The pace changing is inspired, and you even worked in those effects of the frames skipping or slipping.

    Aces, brother, aces. No nights in the box for you.

  3. @Ben the work is always worth it when there those like yourself that recognize the effort, thanks.

    @Alan thanks again for unearthing the idea in the first place. The ds106 fount of inspiration in endless.

    @Ben Harwood thank you so much.

  4. wow. so excellent. but hold up, did i read that right- you ran this through your iphone? that sounds like some crazy jetsons thing. my god, i’m in the future.

Leave a Reply to Alan Levine Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.