Learning English with popular movies 2: (CONDITIONALS) Cool Hand Luke: With Paul Newman

Grammar included:  “Using Conditionals in English”     

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First Conditional:        “If you go to the cinema tonight, I will go with you.”      Structure:  IF +  PRESENT VERB  +  WILL  + VERB  (Something that is possible)

Second Conditional:   “If I spoke French I would live in Paris.”                            Structure:: IF  +  PAST VERB  +  WOULD  +  VERB (Something that is improbable or impossible)

Third Conditional:     “If she had known the truth she would have told us.”      Structure: IF +  PAST PERFECT  +  WOULD  +  PRESENT PERFECT  (Something that didn’t happen in the past)

But, what is a MIXED CONDIONAL?  (Something that didn’t happen in the past and so effected the present)

Mixed conditionals often involve conditions from one time and results from another, allowing for complex relationships between past actions and present realities. The given example, “If he had studied harder, he would have a better job now,” combines the third conditional for the past condition with the present result. This illustrates a hypothetical past action (“had studied harder”) and its potential present consequence (“would have a better job now”).

When using mixed conditionals, it is important to maintain clarity in time distinctions. The structure typically involves “if” + past perfect verb form for the condition (indicating an unreal past), and “would” + base form of the verb for the result (indicating a present consequence of a past action).

Here are more examples:
1. If you had gone to bed early, you wouldn’t be so tired right now.
2. If she had taken the medication, she wouldn’t be feeling sick today.
3. If we had bought tickets earlier, we would be watching the show instead of standing outside.


Movie Study Two:  ‘COOL HAND LUKE’


It has been said that the movie “Cool Hand Luke” was written as a parody of the life of Jesus Christ.  A man struggling to conform in society and being rejected.  And, constantly trying to be accepted by the people around him. It contains many symbolic elements and motifs that draw parallels to Christ’s story. The protagonist, Luke, played by Paul Newman, is presented as a rebellious figure who challenges authority and inspires his fellow prison inmates. However, his actions and certain plots point to throughout the film and mirror elements from the life of Jesus Christ, suggesting intentional allegorical undertones.

POSSIBLE NEW WORDS:  parody, struggling, to conform, rejected, symbolic, elements, motifs, draw parallels, protagonist, rebellious figure, challenges, authority, inspire, fellow, prison, inmates, plot, mirror, elements, suggest, allegorical, undertones

Section One:  

“Cool Hand Luke,” starring Paul Newman, has etched itself into cinema history with its potent themes of defiance and endurance. If an individual is faced with an unjust system, he will challenge it.  Much like Newman’s character Luke does throughout the film. His repeated attempts at escape from the chain gang communicate a message of unyielding perseverance and illustrate the unbreakable human spirit, capturing the imaginations of audiences for generations.    ***If Luke succeeds escaping he will go down in history among his fellow prisoners. ***

First conditional used:    If  +  Succeeds  +  Will  +  Go

POSSIBLE NEW WORDS: etched, potent, defiance, endurance, faced with, unjust, repeated attempts, chain gang, unyielding, perseverance, unbreakable.


If the prisoner __________ a letter of apology, the warden will reduce his sentence by one month.

A) will write
B) writes
C) wrote
D) write

OPTIONAL:  Now write a sentence using the first conditional.

Video Listening Section ONE:  Watch the 4 minute video and answer the three questions below:


            1. CONDITIONALS:   If Luke hadn’t gotten drunk that night he wouldn’t have been arrested.  Which conditional is this sentence?
            2.  OBSERVATION:  What was the sign on the parking meter that Luke was cutting off?
            3. RESEARCH:  How many eggs did Luke eat as a bet in the film and in what time?

Section Two:

Had Luke been born into a different life circumstance or  if he had avoided his early brushes with authority, his destiny would have unfolded in a completely different manner. Imprisoned within the confines of a draconian prison camp, Luke becomes a symbol of resilience as he continually pushes against the boundaries imposed by the system. The film could potentially have portrayed a redeemed man integrating back into society under favourable conditions, but instead derives its dramatic impetus from his antagonistic stance against oppressive authority. According to the prison rules,  *** if Luke conformed to the prison rules he would be released.***

Second conditional used:  IF  +  CONFORMED  +  WOULD  + BE

POSSIBLE NEW WORDS: avoided, brushes with authority, unfolded, manner, confines, draconian, prison camp, resilience, to push against, boundaries, imposed by, portrayed, redeemed, favourable conditions, derives, impetus, antagonistic stance


If you were the warden of a prison, what would you do if an inmate promised to change their behavior?

A) I would immediately release them.
B) I would carefully consider their past behavior before making a decision.
C) I would ignore their promise; inmates often say anything to get privileges.
D) I would give them a chance to prove themselves with consistent good behavior.

OPTIONAL:  Now write a sentence using the second conditional

Section Three:

Luke’s story is one of tragedy and inspiration because,  ***If he had not been so fiercely independent, he could have avoided his ultimate fate.*** The film poignantly captures how he stirs up change and influences his fellow prisoners, leaving behind a legacy that outlives his physical presence. If there’s anything that “Cool Hand Luke” underscores through its narrative arcs, it’s a bittersweet reminder that sometimes rebellion comes with heavy costs, yet can impart lasting lessons of freedom and integrity.

Third conditional used:   IF  + HAD NOT BEEN  +  COULD  +  HAVE AVOIDED

POSSIBLE NEW WORDS:  tragedy, inspiration, poignantly, stir-up, fellow prisoners, outlive, physical presence, underscores, narrative arcs, bittersweet, rebellion, heavy costs, impart, freedom of integrity

Grammar Q3

If he _______ not tried to escape from prison, he _______ have to stay in solitary confinement for a month.

A) had; wouldn’t
B) would have; didn’t need to
C) has; wouldn’t need to
D) hadn’t; would have

OPTIONAL:  Now write a sentence using the third conditional: 



In the clink:      This expression means to be in prison. It can be used like “He’s been in the clink for a couple of years now.”

To do time:      Used to describe serving a sentence. For example, “She’s doing time for a crime she didn’t commit.”

On the yard:     Refers to the recreational area in a prison where inmates may exercise or socialize during designated times. An inmate might say, “I’ll meet you on the yard after lunch.”

Solitary or The hole:      Short for solitary confinement, a form of imprisonment in which an inmate is isolated from any human contact. It’s often used like “He was thrown in the hole for starting a fight.”

Shank:      An improvised stabbing weapon made by inmates, commonly hidden within their living quarters. One might hear, “You have to watch your back in here; someone might pull a shank on you.”


IELTS Section

Writing 150 words:


Listen to the audio and then answer the questions on the pdf.

AUDIO 1:  Booking a hotel




WAR: From Trenches to Drones to Space

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