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Deliverance

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Title: Deliverance  
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Subject: John Boorman, 30th Golden Globe Awards, Ronny Cox, 45th Academy Awards, 1972 in film
Collection: 1970S Adventure Films, 1970S Drama Films, 1970S Lgbt-Related Films, 1970S Thriller Films, 1972 Films, American Adventure Drama Films, American Films, American Thriller Films, English-Language Films, Films Based on American Novels, Films Based on Novels, Films Directed by John Boorman, Films Set in Appalachia, Films Set in Atlanta, Georgia, Films Set in Forests, Films Set in Georgia (U.S. State), Films Shot in Georgia (U.S. State), Films Shot in North Carolina, Films Shot in South Carolina, Rape and Revenge Films, Southern Gothic Films, Southern United States in Fiction, United States National Film Registry Films, Warner Bros. Films, Whitewater Films
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Deliverance

Deliverance
Theatrical release poster by Bill Gold
Directed by John Boorman
Produced by John Boorman
Screenplay by James Dickey
Uncredited:
John Boorman
Based on Deliverance 
by James Dickey
Starring Jon Voight
Burt Reynolds
Ned Beatty
Ronny Cox
Cinematography Vilmos Zsigmond
Edited by Tom Priestley
Production
company
Elmer Productions
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • July 30, 1972 (1972-07-30)
Running time
110 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2 million
Box office $46.1 million[1]

Deliverance is a 1972 American dramatic thriller film produced and directed by John Boorman, and stars Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox, with the latter two making their feature film debuts. The film is based on the 1970 novel of the same name by American author James Dickey, who has a small role in the film as the Sheriff. The screenplay was written by Dickey and an uncredited Boorman.

Widely acclaimed as a landmark picture, the film is noted both for the music scene near the beginning, with one of the city men playing "Dueling Banjos" on guitar with a banjo-playing country boy, that sets the tone for what lies ahead—a trip into unknown and potentially dangerous wilderness—and for its notorious male rape scene. In 2008, Deliverance was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Contents

  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
    • Stunts 3.1
    • Notorious line 3.2
  • Soundtrack and copyright dispute 4
  • Reception 5
    • Critical reception 5.1
    • Awards and nominations 5.2
      • American Film Institute lists 5.2.1
  • Influence of the film 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Plot

Four inbred. Lewis tries to find someone who can drive their cars to a take out point at Aintry to be picked up on Sunday. Drew, who has a guitar, engages a local boy with a banjo in a friendly "duel." When Drew tries to shake the boy's hand, he turns away.

Traveling in pairs, the foursome's two canoes are briefly separated. The occupants of one canoe (Bobby and Ed), land briefly and encounter a pair of grizzled hillbillies emerging from the woods, one wielding a shotgun. Following a verbal altercation, Bobby is forced at gunpoint to strip, his ear twisted to bring him to his hands and knees, and then ordered to "squeal like a pig" before being raped while Ed is bound to a tree and held at gunpoint by the other man.

Hearing the commotion, Lewis sneaks up and kills the rapist with an arrow from his recurve bow; meanwhile, the other mountain man quickly escapes into the woods. After a brief but hotheaded debate between Lewis and Drew about whether to inform the authorities, the men vote to side with Lewis' recommendation to bury the dead mountain man's body and continue on as if nothing had happened. Lewis tells them that they will be arrested and that they wouldn't receive a fair trial, as the local jury would be composed of the dead man's friends and relatives; likewise, Bobby doesn't want what had happened to him to be known. Lewis also reasons the grave would soon be covered by hundreds of feet of water from the dam project. Drew is the only one opposed to their action and is troubled by the decision. The four continue downriver but soon disaster strikes as the canoes reach a dangerous stretch of rapids. As Drew and Ed reach the rapids in the lead canoe, Drew shakes his head and falls into the water. It is unclear why.

After Drew's fall into the river, the survivors' canoes collide on the rocks, spilling Lewis, Bobby and Ed into the river. Lewis breaks his Jon Voight as Ed Gentry

  • Burt Reynolds as Lewis Medlock
  • Ned Beatty as Bobby Trippe
  • Ronny Cox as Drew Ballinger
  • Ed Ramey as Old Man
  • Billy Redden as Lonnie
  • Bill McKinney as Mountain Man
  • Herbert 'Cowboy' Coward as Toothless Man
  • James Dickey as Sheriff Bullard
  • Macon McCalman as Arthur Queen
  • Production

    Deliverance was shot primarily in South Carolina. Additional scenes were shot in Salem, South Carolina.

    A scene was also shot at the Mount Carmel Baptist Church cemetery. This site has since been flooded and lies 130 feet under the surface of Lake Jocassee, on the border between Oconee and Pickens counties in South Carolina.[2][3] The dam shown under construction is Jocassee Dam.

    During the filming of the canoe scene, author James Dickey showed up inebriated and got into a bitter argument with producer-director John Boorman, who had rewritten Dickey's script. They had a brief fistfight in which Boorman's nose was broken and four of his teeth shattered. Dickey was thrown off the set, but no charges were filed against him. The two reconciled and became good friends, and Boorman gave Dickey a cameo role as the sheriff at the end of the film.

    The inspiration for the Cahulawassee River was the Coosawattee River, which was dammed in the 1970s and contained several dangerous whitewater rapids before being flooded by Carters Lake.[4]

    Stunts

    The film is famous for cutting costs by not insuring the production and having the actors do their own stunts (most notably, Jon Voight climbed the cliff himself). In one scene, the stunt coordinator decided that a scene showing a canoe with a dummy of Burt Reynolds in it looked phony; he said it looked "like a canoe with a dummy in it." Reynolds begged to have the scene re-shot with himself in the canoe rather than the dummy. After shooting the scene, Reynolds, coughing up river water and nursing a broken coccyx, asked how the scene looked. The director responded, "like a canoe with a dummy in it."

    Regarding the courage of the four main actors in the movie doing their own stunts without insurance protection, Dickey was quoted as saying all of them "had more guts than a burglar". In a nod to their stunt-performing audacity, early in the movie Lewis says, "Insurance? I've never been insured in my life. I don't believe in insurance. There's no risk."

    Notorious line

    Several people have been credited with the now-famous line including the phrase, "squeal like a pig." Ned Beatty said he thought of it while he and actor McKinney were improvising the scene.[5]

    James Dickey's son, Christopher Dickey, in his memoir about the film production, Summer of Deliverance, said that one of the crewmen suggested that Beatty's character, Bobby, "squeal like a pig," to add some backwoods horror to the scene and make it more shocking. According to Boorman's running commentary on the home media releases, the studio wanted the scene shot two ways, one of which would be acceptable for TV. Boorman did not want to do this. He decided that the phrase "squeal like a pig", suggested by Frank Rickman, a Clayton native, was a good replacement for the dialogue in the script. It would work for both the theatrical and TV versions.

    Soundtrack and copyright dispute

    The film's soundtrack brought new attention to the banjo work "Dueling Banjos", which had been recorded numerous times since 1955. Only Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandel were originally credited for the piece. The songwriter and producer Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith, who wrote the original piece, "Feudin' Banjos" (1955), and recorded it with five-string banjo player Don Reno, filed a lawsuit for songwriting credit and a percentage of royalties. He was awarded both in a landmark copyright infringement case.[6] Smith asked Warner Bros. to include his name on the official soundtrack listing, but reportedly asked to be omitted from the movie credits because he found the film offensive.[7]

    No credit was given for the film score. The film has a number of sparse, brooding passages of music scattered throughout, including several played on a synthesizer. Some prints of the movie omit much of this extra music.

    Boorman was given a gold record for the "Dueling Banjos" hit single; this was later stolen from his house by the Dublin gangster Martin Cahill. Boorman recreated this scene in The General (1998), his biographical film about Cahill.

    Reception

    Deliverance was a box office success in the United States, becoming the fifth-highest grossing film of 1972 after grossing a domestic total of over $46 million.[1] The film's financial success continued the following year, when it went on to earn $18 million in North American "distributor rentals" (receipts).[8]

    Critical reception

    Deliverance was well received by critics and is widely regarded as one of the best films of 1972.[9][10][11][12] The film is in the top tier of films on the critical review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, with a 93% 'fresh' rating.[13]

    Not all reviews were positive. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said:

    Dickey, who wrote the original novel and the screenplay, lards this plot with a lot of significance -- universal, local, whatever happens to be on the market. He is clearly under the impression that he is telling us something about the nature of man, and particularly civilized man's ability to survive primitive challenges[…] But I don't think it works that way.[…] What the movie totally fails at, however, is its attempt to make some kind of significant statement about its action.[…] [W]hat James Dickey has given us here is a fantasy about violence, not a realistic consideration of it.[…] It's possible to consider civilized men in a confrontation with the wilderness without throwing in rapes, cowboy-and-Indian stunts and pure exploitative sensationalism.[14]

    The instrumental piece, "Dueling Banjos," won the 1974 Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance. The film was selected by The New York Times as one of The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made, while the viewers of Channel 4 in the United Kingdom voted it #45 in a list of The 100 Greatest Films.

    Awards and nominations

    Nominated

    American Film Institute lists

    Influence of the film

    • Then-governor [18]
    • The canoes used in the film are displayed at the Burt Reynolds Museum, located at 100 North U.S. Highway 1, in Dillard, Georgia.
    • Following the film, tourism increased to Rabun County by the tens of thousands. By 2012, tourism was the largest source of revenue in the county.[18] Jon Voight's stunt double for this film, Claude Terry, later purchased equipment used in the movie from Warner Brothers. He founded what is now the oldest whitewater rafting adventure company on the Chattooga River, Southeastern Expeditions.[19] By 2012 rafting had developed as a $20 million industry in the region.[18]
    • People have built vacation and second homes around the area's lakes.[18]
    • In June 2012, Rabun County held a Chattooga River Festival to encourage preservation of the river and its environment. It noted the 40th anniversary of the filming of Deliverance in the area, which aroused controversy.[18]
    • In 2012, producer Cory Welles and director Kevin Walker decided to make the documentary, The Deliverance of Rabun County, to explore the effects of the landmark film on people in the county. They heard a wide range of opinions, particularly resentment at how the country people were portrayed. Others are pragmatic and look at the benefits of increased tourism and related businesses.[18]

    See also

    References

    1. ^ a b
    2. ^
    3. ^
    4. ^
    5. ^ Burger, Mark. (2006, March 19). "BEATTY GIVEN MASTER OF CINEMA AWARD; CHARACTER ACTOR IS A VETERAN OF MORE THAN 200 FILM AND TELEVISION PRODUCTIONS", Winston-Salem Journal, Page B1
      "Regarding his debut film, Deliverance (1972), in which his character undergoes an unforgettably vivid sexual assault, Beatty said: 'The whole "squeal like a pig" thing ... came from guess who.' As the audience laughed, he theatrically put his head in his hands and silently pointed to himself, before elaborating how director Boorman encouraged him to improvise the scene with his onscreen tormentor, Bill McKinney."
    6. ^
    7. ^
    8. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1973", Variety, 9 January 1974 p 19
    9. ^
    10. ^
    11. ^
    12. ^ IMDb: Year: 1972
    13. ^
    14. ^ "Deliverance." Chicago Sun-Times.
    15. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees
    16. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees
    17. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ballot
    18. ^ a b c d e f Cory Welles, "40 years later, 'Deliverance' causes mixed feelings in Georgia", Marketplace, 22 August 2012, accessed 27 August 2014
    19. ^ Southeastern Expeditions. Retrieved 8/19/2013.

    External links

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