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DELIVERANCE (1972)

MAY 22, 2014

An intense tale about survival, DELIVERANCE still delivers the goods and stands as one of the most harrowing adventure tales to grace the silver screen. 


Four 30-something city folk (some better friends than others) decide to take a canoe trip along a Georgia river that will soon be flooded by a dam that will lay waste to the region. It’s a chance for them to reconnect with nature as well as their manhood.


What starts out as an idyllic outing, turns into a living nightmare when the four are forced to kill a local mountain man (Bill McKinney) who along with another, assaulted and attempted to kill two of them. 


What to do in the aftermath of this violent act will seal the fate of the four. As they continue their journey, the force of the river becomes more extreme as does the men’s resolve to survive this ordeal no matter what. 


Based on the novel by James Dickey and directed by John Boorman, DELIVERENCE works due to its solid direction and stellar cast. Except for Jon Voight (who won an Oscar for 1969’s MIDNIGHT COWBOY), the three others at the time were considered either unproven or unknown. Burt Reynolds had appeared in a few cancelled TV shows and poorly performing films while Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox were theater actors who had never been on film. Each of the four would go on to have successful careers that they freely admit to owing to this film. 


DELIVERENCE is remembered for two famous scenes. The first, known as the “Dueling Banjos” features Ronny Cox character Drew playing the now famous tune with an honest to God country boy wielding a Banjo. The other is the more infamous “squeal like a pig” rape of Ned Beatty’s character Bobby. The sexual assault that alters the entire movie is quite disturbing in its realism and rawness. 


A MUST SEE MOVIE, DELIVERENCE is a powerful tale of man vs. nature but when I say “nature” I mean not only in the physical sense, but also as in “human nature.” It’s a movie that begs the question; what would you do in the same situation. The answer might not be as simple as you think.