ShogunRua wrote:Cool Hand Luke not only had an excellent ending, but the only possible ending it could have had given the events of the film.
If it had been produced in a vacuum, I'd agree somewhat (but I'd use the Stranger Than Fiction argument to modify the ending. It wasn't the only possible ending.) Hollywood was coming out of a decades long period of having most movies being upbeat and having happy endings, into a paroxysm of overreaction into downer movies coinciding with the political upheaval happening in 1968.
Some examples besides CHL, mostly late 68-72:
Harold & Maude
Bonnie & Clyde
The Andromeda Strain
The Omega Man
Planet of the Apes
They Shoot Horses Don't They (the archetype)
Five Easy Pieces
Uplifting movies can have sad endings, and vice versa, but both of those usually have some positive point or message. The above are just pointless examples of saying the world sucks, so suck it up and get used to it. I spent years trying to figure out if..., and when I finally did, a lot of other movies fell into that same nihilistic hellhole from around that same time. What was Cool Hand Luke about after all? Cutting off some parking meters. Freedom? Hardly. Best I can figure it's 'don't be stupid', the profundity of which is underwhelming.