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Upon moving to Britain to get away from American violence, astrophysicist David Sumner and his wife Amy are bullied and taken advantage of by the locals hired to do contruction. When David finally takes a stand it escalates quickly into a bloody battle as the locals assault his house.
American mathematician David Sumner has moved with his English wife Amy to her small Cornish hometown in order to write a book on astrophysics. Although David hoped that the quiet countryside would inspire him, as well as help him repair his ailing marriage to the vivacious Amy, he is disappointed by the cool reception from the local villagers, and by his daily squabbles with Amy. Amy, in turn, is irritated by the overly intellectual David's refusal to commit deeply to anything, as well as by his often condescending treatment of her. One day, they visit the village for supplies, including an antique metal "man trap," designed to catch poachers, which Amy has bought David for his birthday. While David is in the pub, Amy is approached by Charlie Venner, her childhood sweetheart, although she makes it clear that she is no longer interested in him. Inside the pub, David is both repelled and fascinated by Tom Hedden, a rough older man who breaks a glass with his hand when the barman, Harry Ware, refuses to serve him another pint. The hard-drinking, physically tough villagers are bemused by the soft-looking David, who often removes his eyeglasses when talking to them. Amy suggests that Venner join Norman Scutt, another local, in his desultory efforts to repair the ruined garage on their rented property, Trencher's Farm, and David and Venner agree, with Venner promising to come the next day with his cousin, Bertie Hedden. When they arrive at the farm, David informs Scutt and Chris Cawsey, a rat catcher, of the new arrangement. As they help David unload the man trap, Scutt and Cawsey eagerly question him about the civil unrest and violence in the United States, but David jokes that he saw it only on television. Amy and David's erratic relationship continues, with David both despising and encouraging Amy's childlike behavior, and her trying to prompt him to be more sexually open. One day, Amy, bored and lonely, tries to talk with David as he works, but he dismisses her, insisting that while he loves her, he wants her to leave him alone. Later, after an argument in which Amy ridicules David's handyman skills, she runs upstairs to bathe and momentarily stands half-naked in front of a window, exchanging stares with Venner and the other workmen. Another day, Amy looks for her cat but cannot find it, and David, infuriated by being interrupted again, drives to the pub. There, flirtatious teenager Janice Hedden approaches Henry Niles, a mentally slow villager with a reputation as a child molester, and David watches, aghast, as Niles's brother John slaps him for talking to the girl. In the pub, David meets the local magistrate, Major John Scott, then returns home to find Amy entertaining Reverend Barney Hood and his wife Louise, who have come to invite them to the church social. David, who dislikes religion, acts like a boor, embarrassing Amy. After the Hoods leave, David is horrified to discover Amy's cat, strangled and hanging inside their bedroom closet. Although there is no proof, Amy insists that Scutt and Cawsey are guilty, and that they committed the crime to prove that they could get into David's bedroom. She challenges him to confront the workers, and the next day, David calls them into the house. Intimidated by the earthy men, yet also seeking their approval, David winds up drinking with them. Attempting to goad David into action, Amy brings in a saucer of milk, but David ignores her blatant hint and agrees to go snipe hunting with the men the following morning. Amy storms out, and in the morning, David accompanies the men to the moors, where they leave him to wait while they drive the birds toward him. Venner sneaks back to the house, and although Amy invites him in to ask him about the cat, he begins kissing her. Amy tells Venner no, and as his kisses grow more aggressive, she attempts to resist but he strikes her, then drags her by her hair to the couch. Venner rips open her clothes and continues to threaten her with violence whenever she resists him. As he rapes her, Venner grows more tender until Amy, overcome by emotion, grabs onto him and begs him to hold her. Satiated, the couple lays together until Venner sees a rifle being pointed at him by Scutt. Amy, lying on her stomach, is unaware of Scutt until he grabs her from behind, at which point Venner holds her down while Scutt brutally rapes her. Later, David returns home, furious that he was tricked. Although Amy does not tell him about being raped, she provokes him until they quarrel. In the morning, David fires the four men, and later that day, attends the church social with Amy. Still traumatized, Amy is upset to see the rapists, and the frenzied activity of the party increases her anxiety. Janice seeks David's attention, but when he ignores her, entices Niles into leaving with her. In a secluded building, Janice encourages Niles to kiss her, but when the church bells ring and the villagers, noticing Janice's absence, begin to call for her, Niles panics and accidentally strangles Janice to death. Worried about Amy, David escorts her outside, and as they drive home through the dense fog, their car hits Niles. Fearing that Niles is injured, David takes him to their home. When Amy recognizes him, she protests, but David, believing that Niles is harmless, calls the pub in search of the doctor. When Hedden, Venner, Cawsey, Scutt and Phil Riddaway, who are drinking vigorously while waiting for news of Janice, learn that Niles is at Trencher's Farm, they decide to question him. At the house, they demand that David let them interrogate Niles, but David, sensing that they will kill the incoherent man, asserts that Niles is his responsibility and orders them to leave. Reluctant to inflame the situation, Venner leads the others outside, where the drunken Hedden yells at them for not procuring Niles. As David attempts to calm Amy, telling her that he can handle the situation, a rock smashes through a window. While windows continue to be broken, David locks Niles in the bathroom, and Amy screams at her husband to give Niles up, even if it will result in his death. Outraged, David rebukes her, stating, "This is where I live. This is me. I will not allow violence against this house." Major Scott arrives and attempts to disperse the villagers, but when he wrestles with Hedden for his shotgun, the firearm discharges, killing the magistrate, and the siege intensifies. While David reinforces the windows, Venner whispers to Amy through the front door, telling her that she will not get hurt if she lets him in. David drags her away before she can open the door, however, and slaps her when she attempts to flee. David then traps Scutt as he opens a broken window, tying his hands against the jagged glass. Cawsey sets some curtains on fire, but as Hedden aims his rifle at David, David throws boiling liquid, scalding both Hedden and Venner. When the men hoist Hedden into another window, feet first, David hits the rifle with a poker and the weapon again discharges, blowing off one of Hedden's feet. After Riddaway gains entrance, David hits him with the poker until the man is unconscious. David is then confronted by the knife-wielding Cawsey, and after disarming him, David beats Cawsey to death with the poker. Dropping his weapon, the weary, disgusted David looks up to see Venner approaching with the rifle leveled at him. Daring Venner to shoot him, David stares at him until they hear Amy scream. When they rush upstairs, they find Scutt attempting to rape Amy. Although Scutt urges Venner to shoot David and then attack Amy with him, David shoots and kills Scutt. David disarms Venner and the men grapple, falling down the stairs into the living room. There, Amy watches as David kills Venner by catching his head in the jaws of the man trap. Shaking, David looks around and mutters to himself, "Jesus, I got `em all." When he staggers forward, however, Riddaway attacks him. The weakening David begs Amy to get the gun, and as Riddaway beats him, Amy stands frozen before finally pulling the trigger, killing Riddaway. After briefly asking Amy if she is okay, David gets Niles and puts him in the car. As they drive through the night, Niles sadly states that he does not know his way home and David, smiling ruefully, replies, "That's okay, I don't either."
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||R||Premiere Info:||London premiere: week of 20 Nov 1971; Los Angeles opening: 22 Dec 1971|
|Release Date:||1972||Production Date:||
A Daniel Melnick Production
AFI Library VHS; Netflix*
|Color/B&W:||Color (Eastmancolor)||Distributions Co:||Cinerama Releasing Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||ABC Pictures Corp., Talent Associates Films, Ltd., Amerbroco Films, Ltd.|
|Duration(mins):||113 or 117-118||Country:||Great Britain and United States|
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Dustin Hoffman never got enough credit for this fine performance. Typical Sam Peckinpah style, seemed a little more intense than usual. If you like...