Shawshank, Cool Hand Luke & Apocalypse Now

When you have time off to do what you want, sometimes the days seem to crawl by. But before you know it – you’re at the middle of October. When we watch a film that really gets to us, we no longer notice time. It passes, as it always does, but our attention is elsewhere as we are immersed in the events onscreen.

On the other hand, you have nothing but time on your hands if you are in prison. Morgan Freeman, portraying the convict “Red” in The Shawshank Redemption had this memorable line:

“They march you in naked as the day you were born, skin burning and half blind from that delousing shit they throw on you, and when they put you in that cell, when those bars slam home, that’s when you know it’s for real. Old life blown away in the blink of an eye. Nothing left but all the time in the world to think about it.”

Idle time may generally lead to activating your imagination. The natural occurrence that follows is an escape into a dream world or fantasy. Tim Robbins, who had the lead in Shawshank as Andy Dufrense, had his own way of dealing with time. He held on to hope. The theme of the film, as stated on the poster is: Fear Can Hold You Prisoner. Hope Can set You Free.

Later Andy tells Red that hope is how he made it through solitary confinement.

But Red says that hope is a dangerous thing, which can drive a man insane. As the film heads toward its conclusion, Red has changed his mind, and makes another memorable speech:

“I find I am so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”

 The Shawshank Redemption (1994) was an exceptional film, and its depiction of how hope saved a few men is truly memorable. Cool Hand Luke (1967), and Apocalypse Now (1979) are noteworthy as well. In these pictures, men are not saved, but nonetheless, they are able to get to a place mentally to alleviate the stress of where they are physically.

In Cool Hand Luke, the prisoners work on a road gang during the day, and there’s no time for dreaming while at work. But one day they get to watch as a girl from a nearby house comes out to wash the car.

This scene became famous in movie annals. As she tantalized the convicts with her soaked dress and lush body, they shared a group moment, as their reality became a fantasy, and time stopped for them. They were hoping for a peek at more skin than she was already displaying:

“She ain’t got nothin’ but … nothin’ but one safety pin holdin’ that thing on. Come on, safety pin, POP. Come on, baby, POP!”

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In Apocalypse Now, set during the Vietnam War, Army Captain Willard, played by Martin Sheen, must make his way up river, with his Navy patrol boat crew, to first locate Walter Kurtz. Colonel Kurtz, portrayed by Marlon Brando, had said,

“We train young men to drop fire on people. But their commanders won’t allow them to write ‘fuck’ on their airplanes because it’s obscene.”

Kurtz’s command in Cambodia was an embarrassment to the government, so Kurtz was to be terminated with extreme prejudice by Willard. In short, killed.

Willard dealt with his fears and inner conflicts as new nightmares became a daily event on the river, whether it might be the gung-ho Air Cav Lieutenant Kilgore (”I love the smell of napalm in the morning!”), played by Robert Duvall, or the threat of a VC attack, or the overriding insanity and hypocrisy of Willard’s mission.

And while the miles and days slowly inched by, time seemed unimportant. Willard’s hopes and fears surfaced often and he shared his thoughts with us:

“How many people had I already killed? There was those six that I know about for sure. Close enough to blow their last breath in my face. But this time it was an American and an officer. That wasn’t supposed to make any difference to me, but it did. Shit … charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500. I took the mission. What the hell else was I gonna do?”

So what ties these three films together besides time and fear and hope? In all three movies, fantasy women make an appearance.

Whether it is The Playboy Playmates, that Captain Willard finds performing for the troops way up river on his journey into the heart of darkness, or Joy Harmon’s car-washing scene which has been replayed in the dreams of millions and millions of men for nearly 40 years, or the posters of Rita Hayworth and Raquel Welch which adorned prisoner Andy Dufrensne’s cell and hid the direction of his hopes, it is easy to conclude that men need their fantasy women.

14EITraquel-welch-photograph-c12147391And me, I’m no different. But I don’t mind sharing them with you. So we hope you will fire up your computer and come this way often. As this is a place to find some women who I hope will become etched in time, and so, they too will become a part of your next fantasy.


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