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Cool Hand Luke (1967) - The Captain's speech " What we've got here is failure to communicate"

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Published on Aug 27, 2013

Cool Hand Luke (1967) - The Captain's speech " What we've got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it. . . well, he gets it. I don't like it any more than you men."
Used in the song "Civil War" By Guns and Roses.
Paul Newman as Lucas "Cool Hand Luke" Jackson
Strother Martin as Captain
The phrase "What we've got here is failure to communicate" is a quotation from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, spoken in the movie first by Strother Martin (as the Captain, a prison warden) and later, abridged, by Paul Newman (as Luke, a stubborn prisoner).

The context of the first delivery of the line is:

Captain: You gonna get used to wearing them chains after a while, Luke. Don't you never stop listening to them clinking, 'cause they gonna remind you what I been saying for your own good.
Luke: I wish you'd stop being so good to me, Cap'n.
Captain: Don't you ever talk that way to me. (pause, then hitting him) NEVER! NEVER! (Luke rolls down hill; to other prisoners) What we've got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it. Well, he gets it. I don't like it any more than you men.

The Captain's line is often misquoted as "What we have here is a failure to communicate" (which is grammatically correct in the United States).

Towards the end of the movie, Luke takes a final stab at freedom - stealing a dump truck and taking flight. After his dramatic escape from the Florida chain gang prison, Luke abandons the truck and enters a Church, only to be surrounded by police moments later. Feeling that his life is no longer worth living, walks to a window facing the police and mocks the Captain by repeating the first part of his speech ("What we've got here is a failure to communicate."). He is immediately shot in the neck by Boss Godfrey.

The phrase ranks at No. 11 on the American Film Institute list, AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes.

References in popular culture
Guns N' Roses included the quotation, sampled from Martin's speech in the film, in the opening of their song "Civil War" (1990), and later remixed it in "Madagascar" (2008).
The quote has been used in the movies Take the Money and Run (1969, spoken by James Anderson), Smokey and the Bandit (1977), Ernest Saves Christmas (1988), Waterworld (1995, spoken by Dennis Hopper, who has a small role in Cool Hand Luke), Major Payne (1995), "Arena", Halloween (2007), Whole Lotta Sole (aka Stand Off) (2012), Arena and on TV shows Cracker, Californication, CSI, NCIS, Kyle XY, Oz, Xena, Parenthood, Darkwing Duck and Farscape. It was also in the first episode of the TV series The Mod Squad (aired 9/24/1968).
The quote was also used in tv series Frasier (Season 4, episode 11, "Three Days of the Condo").

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