What we've got here is failure to communicate

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"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: (sarcastically) 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".[2]

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.").[2] 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.[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]