I got to hear him speak last year at the San Francisco International Film Festival, where he received the Kanbar Award. Now it’s late and I don’t have the time to give the man all he’s due, but I do have time to share this with you:
That’s the opening to Cool Hand Luke. Watch it. It’s got three lines of dialogue, two from a character you can’t see and never meet again and one that isn’t even clear. Now, ask yourself, what do you know about Luke?
Yeah. That’s right. Everything. In less then two minutes you know exactly who he is, what kind of man he is, what sort of demons drive him, what he thinks of the world, and what he’ll do about it—foolish or not. All he did was smile, but that was enough. And you’ve still got an entire film to cling to his back and watch him go.
So here’s to Frank Pierson. They don’t come any better than that.