What we've got here is failure to communicate

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"What we've got here is failure to communicate"
Failure to Communicate - 'Cool Hand Luke'.jpg
The Captain (Strother Martin) delivers the quote
Character The Captain
Actor Strother Martin
Paul Newman
First used in Cool Hand Luke
Voted No. 11 in AFI's 100 Movie Quotes poll

The phrase "What we've got here is failure to communicate"[1] 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).[2]

Near the end of the film, when Luke is surrounded in the church and about to be shot, he says, "What we got here is a failure to communicate." [2]

The phrase ranks at No. 11 on the American Film Institute list, AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes.[1]

References in popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Frankly, My Dear, I Don't Give A Damn", AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes, American Film Institute.
  2. ^ a b Greatest Film Mis-Quotes, AMC Filmsite
  3. ^ a b Pop Culture 101: COOL HAND LUKE. Turner Entertainment Networks
  4. ^ Dennis O'Dell (2008-11-14) Guns N' Roses Chinese Democracy Review. BBC
  5. ^ Bond, Callan (February 8, 2006). "Questions and Answers". Cool Movie Trivia. 

External links[edit]