[Quick Summary: A too-smart-for-his-own-good prisoner doesn't fit into a rural prison.]
Certain spec scripts (ex. torture porn, child abuse, rape) are painful to read.
Yet I have read them, & managed not to be scarred for life.
So why was the excellent Cool Hand Luke nearly too painful for me to read?
Because Luke keeps getting caught escaping prison. With each attempt, the guards crushes, demoralizes, pulverizes our hero...
...& we see a man losing hope.
A man without hope is scarier & uglier than blood & guts could ever be.
Don't believe me? Read p. 131 when Luke grovels for mercy.
The writers definitely deserve their Oscar nomination for crafting emotion on the page. The key is that they never went easy on their protagonist (something I see in too many spec scripts today).
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Luke's escapes were physical manifestations of his emotional state.
The more desperate he felt, the bolder his actions.
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
by Frank Pierson & Hal Dresner