Sentenced to two years in a Florida work camp (for the heinous crime of looting some parking meters), the affable Lucas Jackson earns the respect and admiration of his fellow prisoners — including Dragline, the burly inmate leader who gives Lucas his prison nickname. A boast he makes on a steamy evening leads to a challenge: consume 50 hard-boiled eggs (that’s “six pounds” of ovoid protein, according to one inmate) in less than an hour. After a bit of physical preparation and the encouraging words of his new best friend-corner man Dragline (George Kennedy), Luke begins his attack. Paul Newman does a terrific job of showing Luke’s eroding confidence and increasingly short-focused stare: we feel the dull pain of his overworked jaws and the deep struggle behind every tortured swallow. When he finally eats his last egg, we want him to lie down and not move for the next two days.
INTERESTING FACT: A large prison set, with barracks, a mess hall, and several guard houses, was built in California’s San Joaquin County (and was reportedly slapped with numerous violations by a building inspector who thought the structures actually housed farm workers).
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