Deliverance


1h 49m 1972
Deliverance

Brief Synopsis

During a hunting vacation, four men fight against a murderous clan of backwoodsmen.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Adventure
Action
Adaptation
Drama
Nature
Thriller
Release Date
Aug 1972
Premiere Information
New York opening: 30 Jul 1972; Atlanta, GA opening: 11 Aug 1972; Los Angeles opening: 16 Aug 1972
Production Company
Elmer Enterprises, Inc.; Warner Bros., Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Chattooga River, Clayton, Georgia, USA; Chattooga River, Georgia, United States; Clayton, Georgia, United States; Clayton, George, United States; Rabun County, Georgia, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Deliverance by James Dickey (Boston, 1970).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 49m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

On a Friday afternoon, Atlanta men Ed Gentry, Lewis Medlock, Bobby Trippe and Drew Ballinger drive two cars to the top of the Cahulawassee River, planning to canoe through the river's rapids and return home on Sunday. The acerbic, athletic Lewis, who has convinced his more docile friend Ed to come on the trip, mourns the impending loss of the river's wildness, which will be tamed when its waters are dammed to make a recreational lake for newly constructed summer homes. When the group arrives at a ramshackle gas station in the hills, Lewis pays two mountain men to follow them to the edge of the river, then drive their cars down to Aintry, a small town at its base. While insurance salesman Bobby makes jokes about the crude living conditions of the hill people, Drew strums his guitar and enjoys a rousing duet with a boy with odd-looking eyes who plays the banjo like an accomplished professional, but does not speak and will not shake hands with Drew. Lewis refuses to ask for directions to the river from "crackers," preferring to drive wildly through the woods until he finds it. Although Ed is happy with his ordinary, middle-class life, he hero-worships Lewis, who has honed his skills as an outdoorsman and is convinced that in the future, only those with the skill to survive against nature will prevail. When the men put their canoes into the water, Lewis takes the overweight, out-of-shape Bobby, while Ed and Drew, who are similar in temperament, ride together. That afternoon they successfully navigate some rapids, prompting Ed, Bobby and Drew to laugh as they set up camp on the side of the river, and Lewis grudgingly tells the exhilarated Bobby, "You did good, Chubby." After a night of drinking, Ed, who is the first one up on Saturday morning, takes his bow and arrow to go hunting in the woods. Although he has an easy shot to kill a deer, as he draws his bow, his hand shakes so violently that his arrow lands in a tree, alerting the deer, which runs away. Back at camp, Ed lies that he found nothing to shoot, and Drew wonders aloud how anyone could shoot an animal. As they prepare for the day's ride, the men switch partners when Lewis tells Ed that he does not want to have Bobby with him. Following more rapids, as well as long stretches of calm waters, Ed and Bobby, who have passed Lewis and Drew, pull their canoe ashore. Moments later, Ed sees two mountain men, one of whom is toothless and carries a shotgun. Although Ed and Bobby try to avoid confrontation, the mountain men grab the stronger Ed and use his belt to bind his neck to a tree. As the toothless man guards Ed, the other man uses his knife to make a shallow cut along Ed's chest, then forces the terrified Bobby to remove his clothes and squeal like a pig while he sodomizes him. Afterward, while Bobby lies whimpering on the hillside, both of the mountain men lasciviously eye Ed as Ed glimpses Lewis sneaking up from the riverbank. Moments later, Lewis shoots an arrow through the rapist, causing the toothless man to run into the hills. After the rapist dies, Lewis, Ed and Bobby argue with Drew about what to do. While Drew proffers that the killing was justifiable homicide and they must take the body to the sheriff, Lewis argues that, by doing so, they would either be killed by the rapist's friends or would have to come back to the area for a trial by locals, who would certainly convict them of killing one of their own. Although Drew insists that he is right, the others vote to go along with Lewis and bury the body in the woods, which Lewis assures them will be at the bottom of a deep lake after the dam floods the area. When the four go back into their canoes, Lewis continues with Bobby, while Ed takes Drew, who fails to put on his lifejacket. As they encounter a treacherous section of rapids, Ed repeatedly yells to Drew to put on his lifejacket, but he does not respond, then suddenly lunges forward into the water. In their simultaneous attempts to find Drew and forge the fierce rapids, both canoes capsize, and Ed's wooden canoe is broken apart. When they finally reach the end of the rapids, Lewis' leg has been badly broken and Ed can only find Drew's guitar. Huddled in a shelter of rocks, Lewis screams that Drew was shot from above, as both Bobby and Ed ask him what they should do. Convinced by Lewis that Drew has been shot by the toothless man, who is stalking them from the hilltop, Ed waits until nightfall, then climbs the steep cliff with his bow and arrow. Exhausted, Ed falls asleep until morning, when he awakens to see a man carrying a shotgun on the ridge above. Ed's hand shakes so violently as he takes aim with his bow that when the arrow is released, the kickback of the bow wounds Ed in the side. Moments later, the other man advances toward Ed and takes aim with his shotgun, but falls over dead, Ed's arrow having run him through. Unsure if he has killed the right man, Ed opens the corpse's mouth and is startled to see a full set of teeth. Ed then jiggles the front teeth and discovers that the man was wearing a bridge that, when removed, makes him appear toothless. Ed throws the shotgun and his bow into the river below and ties the man's body with his rope, but as they descend the cliff, they both fall and Ed becomes entwined with the corpse under the surface of the water. After freeing himself, Ed swims to Lewis and Bobby, but none of the men know for certain whether or not Ed has killed the right man. When they find Drew's body, they examine it but cannot be sure if he was shot or whether his injuries were the result of being crushed against the rocks. After using heavy stones to sink his body, as well as the man Ed killed, Ed and Bobby place Lewis, who is in excruciating pain, inside the metal canoe, then paddle through the last grueling stretch of rapids. They finally arrive at Aintry, but before reaching the shore, as the men laugh nervously over having survived the trip, Ed insists that they must all stick to the story that Drew drowned when they lost the wooden canoe in the last stretch of rapids. While Bobby stays with Lewis and waits for medical help, Ed walks around the village and sees that their cars are parked safely nearby. After an ambulance takes Lewis to the hospital, a local deputy and Sheriff Bullard question Bobby and Ed. While the deputy is sure that Bobby and Ed are lying, the more restrained Bullard does not assume the worst, even though one of the local men is missing after having gone hunting. That night, as Bobby socializes with guests at an inn, Ed starts to cry, garnering sympathy from the others. The next morning, when Bobby tells Ed that the sheriff's men have found parts of the wooden canoe farther up river than their story suggested, Ed accuses him of talking. When Ed later is questioned by Bullard, he tries to cover their lies by saying that they may have been mistaken about which section of rapids caused the accident. At the hospital, under the watchful eye of a deputy, Ed whispers to Lewis that they had to change their story, prompting the semi-conscious Lewis to proclaim loudly that he does not remember anything that happened in the last set of rapids. Later, as Bullard puts Ed into his car, he wonders why they found four life jackets up river, but lets Ed leave, sternly advising him never to come back again, and saying that the missing hunter will no doubt show up one day. Before leaving Aintry, Ed gazes at the town cemetery, which, like the rest of the town, will soon be buried at the bottom of the newly formed lake. After returning to Atlanta and informing Drew's wife and son of his death, Ed resumes his life but is haunted by nightmares in which the hand of the man they buried bobs up to the surface of the lake.

Crew

Jim Atkinson

Sound Editing

Frank J. Ayre

Craft service

Jim Blair

Electrician Supervisor

John Boorman

Producer

John Boorman

Additional Dialogue

George Boulette

Camera Operator

Art Brooker

Key grip

Bill Butler

2nd Unit Photography

Paul J. Caven

Electrician

Earl Clark

Assistant Camera

James Coe

Stills

Hershey Cohen

Timekeeper

John Connors

Assistant Camera

Bill Couch

Stunts

James Cross

Driver

Joe Day

Special Effects Assistant

Pat Desmond Jr.

Driver, studio van

James Dickey

Screenwriter

Ed Dutton

Transportation gaffer

Sue Dwiggins

Prod Secretary

Bob Farnsworth

Grip best boy

Dr. John Fowler

Loc doctor

Ralph L. Garrett

Stunts

Walter Goss

Sound Mixer

Syd Greenwood

Props Master

Michael Handcock

Makeup

Fred Harpman

Art Director

Alan Heather

Electrician

Morris Hoffman

Set Decoration

Al Jennings

Assistant Director

Danny R. Jordan

Grip

Pat Kelly

Wardrobe Assistant

E. Lewis King

Technical Advisor

Dr. George C. King

Loc doctor

Al Klein

Camera mechanic

Jerry Kobold

Props Assistant

Janey Lampros

First aid

Steve Mandel

Composer

Steve Mandel

Guitar double for "Duelling Banjos" duet

Donoene Mckay

Hairstylist

Miles Middough

Assistant Director

Pat Miller

Transportation capt

Robert Moore

Grip

William Neel

Assistant film Editor

Charles Orme

Associate Producer

Barbara Pallenberg

Secretary to Director

Rospo Pallenberg

Creative Associate

Aaron Pazanti

Electrician best boy

Tom Priestley

Editing

Don Pringle

Greensman

Ray Quiroz

Script Supervisor

Ian Rakoff

Assistant Editor

Bucky Rous

Wardrobe master

Ken Ryan

Loc auditor

Don Schmitz

Grip

James Schori

Generator op

Jerry Smith

Boom man

Gary Stahl

Cable man

Lynn Stalmaster

Casting

Claude Terry

Stunt double for Jon Voight

Doug Turner

Dubbing mixer

James Van De Vort

Painter

Marcel Vercoutere

Special Effects

Sven Walnum

Camera Operator

Eric Weissberg

Composer

Eris Weissberg

Banjo double for "Duelling Banjos" duet

Vernon White

Pub

Charles Wiggin

Technical Advisor

Wallace Worsely

Prod Supervisor

Charles Ziarko

2d Assistant Director

Vilmos Zsigmond

Director of Photography

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Adventure
Action
Adaptation
Drama
Nature
Thriller
Release Date
Aug 1972
Premiere Information
New York opening: 30 Jul 1972; Atlanta, GA opening: 11 Aug 1972; Los Angeles opening: 16 Aug 1972
Production Company
Elmer Enterprises, Inc.; Warner Bros., Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Chattooga River, Clayton, Georgia, USA; Chattooga River, Georgia, United States; Clayton, Georgia, United States; Clayton, George, United States; Rabun County, Georgia, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Deliverance by James Dickey (Boston, 1970).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 49m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Director

1972
John Boorman

Best Editing

1972
Tom Priestley

Best Picture

1972

Articles

Deliverance - Burt Reynolds & Jon Voight in John Boorman's DELIVERANCE on DVD


"No one beats this river."

John Boorman made his mark in memorable films about conflict in the wilderness: Hell in the Pacific, The Emerald Forest. Deliverance distinguishes itself by transcending the director's habit of overreaching for greater significance. James Dickey's adaptation of his own book dotes on obvious symbolism, as when we see an entire church being hauled away from a doomed town. But the situation of four city dwellers confronted with a backwoods nightmare is both credible and compelling, and most of the acting couldn't be better. Deliverance is a top drama about men under pressure.

In the relaxed artistic climate of the early 1970s mainstream movies began to confront subject matter previously considered unthinkable. Deliverance became immediately notorious because of a scene involving a fairly explicit sodomy rape. In terms of honesty, the scene still hasn't been topped. The savage conflict in Deliverance outweighs the preachy tone of its script.

Synopsis: Atlanta businessmen Ed Gentry, Lewis Medlock, Bobby Trippe and Drew Ballinger (Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty & Ronny Cox) take a weekend trip down the Cahulawassee River before it is swallowed up by a lake formed by a new dam. They arrange for some standoffish hill people to deliver their cars downriver, and set out in canoes. Macho survivalist Lewis lectures the others with his apocalyptic theories, and intimidates easy-going insurance salesman Bobby. Then Ed and Bobby chance upon a pair of shotgun-toting mountain men (Bill McKinney & Herbert 'Cowboy' Coward), and the weekend jaunt turns into a nightmare.

Deliverance consciously inverts the myth that rural people are naturally noble and unspoiled. The four friends from Atlanta need only drive a couple of hundred miles into the hills to find themselves among uncommunicative and suspicious folk, some of whom live seemingly on the edge of savagery. The difficulty of establishing friendly contact is driven home when Ronny Cox's Drew engages in a banjo duet with a silent and apparently inbred mountain boy. They make sensational music together, but the boy refuses to bond over the experience or even talk to Drew. Thus Dickey and Boorman propose -- unfairly, when one thinks about it -- that the 'hicks' left behind by progress are devolving into a bitter underclass just itching for a chance to strike back at the smug city folks.

The unfussy dramatic setup leaves us wide open for the film's 'symbolic' content. When the boys first set out, they pass beneath a bridge where the silent musician slowly swings his banjo, as if it were a railroad warning signal. Boorman is telling us that utter doom lies in wait down the river, and even the beauties of untouched nature seem forbidding. Lewis preaches self-reliance and survival skills; Ed has another beer and counters that the city has been pretty good to him. We know that both men will soon be severely tested.

[Spoiler]
Many audiences that wouldn't be caught dead attending The Devils or A Clockwork Orange expected Deliverance to be a standard adventure tale and were taken by surprise by its frightening, graphic rape scene. Jumped by two rough mountain men, Jon Voight's sensitive Ed Gentry is strapped to a tree while poor Bobby Trippe is stripped and violated. The shocking scene is utterly convincing, not to mention a demonstration of enormous professional bravery on the part of actor Ned Beatty. Lewis reacts decisively, and the four must then deal with the fact that they've killed a man. Burt Reynolds has an impressive physical presence but is the film's weakest link, partly because his character Lewis is burdened with so much oratory. He sounds a bit false as he spouts pompous lines about the corruption of the city and the survival of the fittest: "Sometimes you have to lose yourself before you can find anything."

In a burst of savagery that surely influenced exploitative horror movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes, Deliverance turns a camping holiday into a life and death struggle. Not everyone will survive and those that do have to stick together when the authorities start asking questions. Author Dickey plays a cagey Sheriff tasked with sorting out what really happened on the Cahulawassee. When the facts don't add up, the Sheriff tries to undo Ed and Bobby's shaky story. Just how did that canoe fragment magically drift upriver?

Deliverance succeeds because it deals with everyday, believable guys and not Rambo-ized superheroes. When Lewis is put out of action, the unassertive Ed must take the initiative, setting up a familiar masculine challenge. Ed does 'what a man has to do' but is racked with guilt when he can't be certain that the man he kills is really one of the earlier attackers. Ironically, the 'civilized' skills condemned by Lewis are the ones that save the day. Deliverance succeeds because it deals with everyday, believable guys and not Rambo-ized superheroes. When Lewis is put out of action, the unassertive Ed must take the initiative, setting up a familiar masculine challenge. Ed does 'what a man has to do' but is racked with guilt when he can't be certain that the man he kills is really one of the earlier attackers. Ironically, the 'civilized' skills condemned by Lewis are the ones that save the day. Nervous insurance man Bobby is at a clear disadvantage in a macho standoff. But when the deputies challenge his account of the 'accident' on the river, Bobby sidesteps and stonewalls like a master.

Boorman's fluid direction makes Deliverance into a tense ordeal. Everyone has some notion of what camping is like and we experience the downriver passage in several stages. When things go wrong the river becomes a hostile environment of cliffs and pit-like pools; Ed must cling to a mountainside to fight for his life. Just to throw us off balance, Boorman prints a partial negative image back into the nighttime climbing scenes, giving Ed's ascent a weird, otherworldly feeling. Drew starts by saying that the original explorers must have shared the same kind of thrill of entering virgin territory. That leads into Lewis' contention that modern man is raping the wilderness, and our guilty suspicion that nature is striking back. After this movie was released, I can imagine that tourism in the back hills of Georgia took a nosedive.

Warners' Deluxe Edition of Deliverance replaces a much older release with an improved enhanced transfer that flatters the camerawork of Vilmos Zsigmond. I remember the stunning 70mm six-track audio during the film's exclusive run at the Cinerama Dome, and the disc's 5.1 audio recreates the same dynamics. John Boorman and all four leading actors add their anecdotes and opinions to Laurent Bouzereau's multi-part 35th Anniversary retrospective docu, which covers every aspect of the film including the story behind that amazing dueling banjos scene. Boorman also provides his thoughts on a full commentary. A 1972 promo The Dangerous World of Deliverance is included, along with a trailer. Tracks are provided in English and French, and subs in English and Spanish.

For more information about Deliverance, visit Warner Video. To order Deliverance, go to TCM Shopping.

by Glenn Erickson
Deliverance - Burt Reynolds & Jon Voight In John Boorman's Deliverance On Dvd

Deliverance - Burt Reynolds & Jon Voight in John Boorman's DELIVERANCE on DVD

"No one beats this river." John Boorman made his mark in memorable films about conflict in the wilderness: Hell in the Pacific, The Emerald Forest. Deliverance distinguishes itself by transcending the director's habit of overreaching for greater significance. James Dickey's adaptation of his own book dotes on obvious symbolism, as when we see an entire church being hauled away from a doomed town. But the situation of four city dwellers confronted with a backwoods nightmare is both credible and compelling, and most of the acting couldn't be better. Deliverance is a top drama about men under pressure. In the relaxed artistic climate of the early 1970s mainstream movies began to confront subject matter previously considered unthinkable. Deliverance became immediately notorious because of a scene involving a fairly explicit sodomy rape. In terms of honesty, the scene still hasn't been topped. The savage conflict in Deliverance outweighs the preachy tone of its script. Synopsis: Atlanta businessmen Ed Gentry, Lewis Medlock, Bobby Trippe and Drew Ballinger (Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty & Ronny Cox) take a weekend trip down the Cahulawassee River before it is swallowed up by a lake formed by a new dam. They arrange for some standoffish hill people to deliver their cars downriver, and set out in canoes. Macho survivalist Lewis lectures the others with his apocalyptic theories, and intimidates easy-going insurance salesman Bobby. Then Ed and Bobby chance upon a pair of shotgun-toting mountain men (Bill McKinney & Herbert 'Cowboy' Coward), and the weekend jaunt turns into a nightmare. Deliverance consciously inverts the myth that rural people are naturally noble and unspoiled. The four friends from Atlanta need only drive a couple of hundred miles into the hills to find themselves among uncommunicative and suspicious folk, some of whom live seemingly on the edge of savagery. The difficulty of establishing friendly contact is driven home when Ronny Cox's Drew engages in a banjo duet with a silent and apparently inbred mountain boy. They make sensational music together, but the boy refuses to bond over the experience or even talk to Drew. Thus Dickey and Boorman propose -- unfairly, when one thinks about it -- that the 'hicks' left behind by progress are devolving into a bitter underclass just itching for a chance to strike back at the smug city folks. The unfussy dramatic setup leaves us wide open for the film's 'symbolic' content. When the boys first set out, they pass beneath a bridge where the silent musician slowly swings his banjo, as if it were a railroad warning signal. Boorman is telling us that utter doom lies in wait down the river, and even the beauties of untouched nature seem forbidding. Lewis preaches self-reliance and survival skills; Ed has another beer and counters that the city has been pretty good to him. We know that both men will soon be severely tested. [Spoiler] Many audiences that wouldn't be caught dead attending The Devils or A Clockwork Orange expected Deliverance to be a standard adventure tale and were taken by surprise by its frightening, graphic rape scene. Jumped by two rough mountain men, Jon Voight's sensitive Ed Gentry is strapped to a tree while poor Bobby Trippe is stripped and violated. The shocking scene is utterly convincing, not to mention a demonstration of enormous professional bravery on the part of actor Ned Beatty. Lewis reacts decisively, and the four must then deal with the fact that they've killed a man. Burt Reynolds has an impressive physical presence but is the film's weakest link, partly because his character Lewis is burdened with so much oratory. He sounds a bit false as he spouts pompous lines about the corruption of the city and the survival of the fittest: "Sometimes you have to lose yourself before you can find anything." In a burst of savagery that surely influenced exploitative horror movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes, Deliverance turns a camping holiday into a life and death struggle. Not everyone will survive and those that do have to stick together when the authorities start asking questions. Author Dickey plays a cagey Sheriff tasked with sorting out what really happened on the Cahulawassee. When the facts don't add up, the Sheriff tries to undo Ed and Bobby's shaky story. Just how did that canoe fragment magically drift upriver? Deliverance succeeds because it deals with everyday, believable guys and not Rambo-ized superheroes. When Lewis is put out of action, the unassertive Ed must take the initiative, setting up a familiar masculine challenge. Ed does 'what a man has to do' but is racked with guilt when he can't be certain that the man he kills is really one of the earlier attackers. Ironically, the 'civilized' skills condemned by Lewis are the ones that save the day. Deliverance succeeds because it deals with everyday, believable guys and not Rambo-ized superheroes. When Lewis is put out of action, the unassertive Ed must take the initiative, setting up a familiar masculine challenge. Ed does 'what a man has to do' but is racked with guilt when he can't be certain that the man he kills is really one of the earlier attackers. Ironically, the 'civilized' skills condemned by Lewis are the ones that save the day. Nervous insurance man Bobby is at a clear disadvantage in a macho standoff. But when the deputies challenge his account of the 'accident' on the river, Bobby sidesteps and stonewalls like a master. Boorman's fluid direction makes Deliverance into a tense ordeal. Everyone has some notion of what camping is like and we experience the downriver passage in several stages. When things go wrong the river becomes a hostile environment of cliffs and pit-like pools; Ed must cling to a mountainside to fight for his life. Just to throw us off balance, Boorman prints a partial negative image back into the nighttime climbing scenes, giving Ed's ascent a weird, otherworldly feeling. Drew starts by saying that the original explorers must have shared the same kind of thrill of entering virgin territory. That leads into Lewis' contention that modern man is raping the wilderness, and our guilty suspicion that nature is striking back. After this movie was released, I can imagine that tourism in the back hills of Georgia took a nosedive. Warners' Deluxe Edition of Deliverance replaces a much older release with an improved enhanced transfer that flatters the camerawork of Vilmos Zsigmond. I remember the stunning 70mm six-track audio during the film's exclusive run at the Cinerama Dome, and the disc's 5.1 audio recreates the same dynamics. John Boorman and all four leading actors add their anecdotes and opinions to Laurent Bouzereau's multi-part 35th Anniversary retrospective docu, which covers every aspect of the film including the story behind that amazing dueling banjos scene. Boorman also provides his thoughts on a full commentary. A 1972 promo The Dangerous World of Deliverance is included, along with a trailer. Tracks are provided in English and French, and subs in English and Spanish. For more information about Deliverance, visit Warner Video. To order Deliverance, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson

Deliverance


In publishing his first novel in 1970, the accomplished Atlanta poet James Dickey crafted a tale of four suburbanites who head to the backwoods in order to get in touch with a vanishing America, and end up having their bodies and souls tried by the most horrifically grueling of circumstances. The novel ran up the best-seller charts, and it didn't take long for Hollywood to come calling with an option. Dickey adapted the screenplay himself, and the end product- Deliverance (1972) - was a harrowing odyssey that became one of the greatest popular and critical screen successes of the period.

The tale is set against a stretch of Georgia's Chattooga River that the protagonists seek to conquer by canoe before it is destroyed by an incipient dam project. The weekend party consists mainly of tenderfoot professionals, including Ed (Jon Voight), Bobby (Ned Beatty) and Drew (Ronny Cox); the alpha male of the group, Lewis (Burt Reynolds), is a bow hunting enthusiast and would-be survivalist who calls the shots for the expedition.

It doesn't take long for their junket to take on an ominous undercurrent; while they try to arrange delivery of their cars to the journey's end, they're regarded with suspicion by the dirt-poor mountain residents. In a memorable set piece, Drew grabs his guitar and engages in an impromptu duet with a blank-faced, banjo-plucking local boy. (The resulting riffs would become a radio hit of the era known as "Dueling Banjos.")

The first day's travels produce only the thrills of maneuvering the whitewater; however, their exultation will be short-lived. Having become separated from Lewis and Drew, Ed and Bobby elect to pull ashore. It isn't long before the weekend warriors find themselves accosted by a pair of particularly creepy mountain men (Bill McKinney, Herbert "Cowboy" Coward), and find to their building terror that these frightening hillbillies harbor more peculiar notions about male bonding. The excursion quickly becomes a genuine fight for survival, and Deliverance escalates the tension, all the way to its draining conclusion.

Dickey's son Christopher, who authored a memoir of his family and their days on the set entitled Summer of Deliverance, spoke of how his father wanted, and had once courted, Sam Peckinpah as director of the project. Warner Brothers had opted for John Boorman, the British filmmaker whose most noted credits at that juncture were two Lee Marvin films, Point Blank (1967) and Hell in the Pacific (1968).

Dickey and Boorman's collaboration went smoothly through pre-production, but as shooting progressed, their relationship strained to the breaking point. "Boorman had said he was interfering too much," Christopher Dickey recounted. "Said the actors were upset by his presence. Boorman had said, 'Jim, if you want to direct this picture, fine.' Dickey had said of course not, John was the director, John was the auteur. And John had said in that case he thought it would be best if Jim left." (The larger-than-life Dickey did log some screen time as the investigating sheriff in the film's closing sequences.)

The palpable sense of danger one finds in viewing Deliverance is owed in no small part to the location shooting along the Chattooga, which proved extremely daunting to both cast and crew. "Once there I learned the original cast had included Marlon Brando, Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda, but then they were informed about the Chattooga, fifty miles of white-water hell and deadly waterfalls running from South Carolina to Georgia," Burt Reynolds recalled in his autobiography My Life. "On a danger scale of one to six, the river is rated a five-the second most dangerous river in the U.S. You aren't supposed to go down in a canoe unless you're an expert. Those big stars wisely got the hell out."

For a sequence where Lewis had to go over a ninety-foot waterfall, Boorman and cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond shot the sequence with a dummy, only to have the director assess the results as looking "like a dummy going over a waterfall." The ex-stuntman Reynolds volunteered to go for the plunge, and recounted in his autobiography as to how he would come to regret it: "The first rock I hit cracked my tailbone like an egg...I turned several flips, hit something, doubled up, landed on my neck, and entered the hydrofoil at the bottom where the falls plunge back into the river...

"I'd come over the falls a thirty-five-year-old daredevil in perfect shape. When I surfaced about two hundred yards downriver, I was a nude seventy-five-year-old man-yes sir-without a stitch of clothes on." Returning from the hospital for the rushes, Burt asked how the resulting shot looked. "'Like a dummy going over a waterfall,' Boorman said."

Beyond garnering Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Direction and Best Editing, Deliverance gave a career boost to all involved. From the beginning, Reynolds anxiously coveted the project to demonstrate that he could be more than a TV lead; the picture's release closely coincided with his notorious centerfold for Cosmopolitan, and the resulting buzz put him at pop culture's forefront for a decade. Beatty and Cox, whom Boorman cast after seeing them onstage in a Washington, D.C. production of The Pueblo Incident, kicked off their distinguished character careers before the camera. For his part, Boorman became an internationally acclaimed director, a reputation that he continues to enjoy as one of cinema's most compelling visual stylists.

Producer/Director: John Boorman
Screenplay: James Dickey
Cinematography: Vilmos Zsigmond
Film Editing: Tom Priestley
Art Direction: Fred Harpman
Music: Steve Mandel, Eric Weisberg
Cast: Jon Voight (Ed Gentry), Burt Reynolds (Lewis Medlock), Ned Beatty (Bobby Trippe), Ronny Cox (Drew Ballinger), Ed Ramey (old man), Billy Redden (Lonny).
C-110m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Jay Steinberg

Deliverance

In publishing his first novel in 1970, the accomplished Atlanta poet James Dickey crafted a tale of four suburbanites who head to the backwoods in order to get in touch with a vanishing America, and end up having their bodies and souls tried by the most horrifically grueling of circumstances. The novel ran up the best-seller charts, and it didn't take long for Hollywood to come calling with an option. Dickey adapted the screenplay himself, and the end product- Deliverance (1972) - was a harrowing odyssey that became one of the greatest popular and critical screen successes of the period. The tale is set against a stretch of Georgia's Chattooga River that the protagonists seek to conquer by canoe before it is destroyed by an incipient dam project. The weekend party consists mainly of tenderfoot professionals, including Ed (Jon Voight), Bobby (Ned Beatty) and Drew (Ronny Cox); the alpha male of the group, Lewis (Burt Reynolds), is a bow hunting enthusiast and would-be survivalist who calls the shots for the expedition. It doesn't take long for their junket to take on an ominous undercurrent; while they try to arrange delivery of their cars to the journey's end, they're regarded with suspicion by the dirt-poor mountain residents. In a memorable set piece, Drew grabs his guitar and engages in an impromptu duet with a blank-faced, banjo-plucking local boy. (The resulting riffs would become a radio hit of the era known as "Dueling Banjos.") The first day's travels produce only the thrills of maneuvering the whitewater; however, their exultation will be short-lived. Having become separated from Lewis and Drew, Ed and Bobby elect to pull ashore. It isn't long before the weekend warriors find themselves accosted by a pair of particularly creepy mountain men (Bill McKinney, Herbert "Cowboy" Coward), and find to their building terror that these frightening hillbillies harbor more peculiar notions about male bonding. The excursion quickly becomes a genuine fight for survival, and Deliverance escalates the tension, all the way to its draining conclusion. Dickey's son Christopher, who authored a memoir of his family and their days on the set entitled Summer of Deliverance, spoke of how his father wanted, and had once courted, Sam Peckinpah as director of the project. Warner Brothers had opted for John Boorman, the British filmmaker whose most noted credits at that juncture were two Lee Marvin films, Point Blank (1967) and Hell in the Pacific (1968). Dickey and Boorman's collaboration went smoothly through pre-production, but as shooting progressed, their relationship strained to the breaking point. "Boorman had said he was interfering too much," Christopher Dickey recounted. "Said the actors were upset by his presence. Boorman had said, 'Jim, if you want to direct this picture, fine.' Dickey had said of course not, John was the director, John was the auteur. And John had said in that case he thought it would be best if Jim left." (The larger-than-life Dickey did log some screen time as the investigating sheriff in the film's closing sequences.) The palpable sense of danger one finds in viewing Deliverance is owed in no small part to the location shooting along the Chattooga, which proved extremely daunting to both cast and crew. "Once there I learned the original cast had included Marlon Brando, Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda, but then they were informed about the Chattooga, fifty miles of white-water hell and deadly waterfalls running from South Carolina to Georgia," Burt Reynolds recalled in his autobiography My Life. "On a danger scale of one to six, the river is rated a five-the second most dangerous river in the U.S. You aren't supposed to go down in a canoe unless you're an expert. Those big stars wisely got the hell out." For a sequence where Lewis had to go over a ninety-foot waterfall, Boorman and cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond shot the sequence with a dummy, only to have the director assess the results as looking "like a dummy going over a waterfall." The ex-stuntman Reynolds volunteered to go for the plunge, and recounted in his autobiography as to how he would come to regret it: "The first rock I hit cracked my tailbone like an egg...I turned several flips, hit something, doubled up, landed on my neck, and entered the hydrofoil at the bottom where the falls plunge back into the river... "I'd come over the falls a thirty-five-year-old daredevil in perfect shape. When I surfaced about two hundred yards downriver, I was a nude seventy-five-year-old man-yes sir-without a stitch of clothes on." Returning from the hospital for the rushes, Burt asked how the resulting shot looked. "'Like a dummy going over a waterfall,' Boorman said." Beyond garnering Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Direction and Best Editing, Deliverance gave a career boost to all involved. From the beginning, Reynolds anxiously coveted the project to demonstrate that he could be more than a TV lead; the picture's release closely coincided with his notorious centerfold for Cosmopolitan, and the resulting buzz put him at pop culture's forefront for a decade. Beatty and Cox, whom Boorman cast after seeing them onstage in a Washington, D.C. production of The Pueblo Incident, kicked off their distinguished character careers before the camera. For his part, Boorman became an internationally acclaimed director, a reputation that he continues to enjoy as one of cinema's most compelling visual stylists. Producer/Director: John Boorman Screenplay: James Dickey Cinematography: Vilmos Zsigmond Film Editing: Tom Priestley Art Direction: Fred Harpman Music: Steve Mandel, Eric Weisberg Cast: Jon Voight (Ed Gentry), Burt Reynolds (Lewis Medlock), Ned Beatty (Bobby Trippe), Ronny Cox (Drew Ballinger), Ed Ramey (old man), Billy Redden (Lonny). C-110m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Jay Steinberg

Quotes

You take that chubby boy with you today.
- Lewis Medlock
He's rather well thought of in his field, Lewis.
- Ed
Insurance? I never been insured in my life. There's no risk.
- Lewis Medlock
Look, what is it that you require of us?
- Ed
What we, uh, "re-quire" is that you get your god-damn asses up in them woods.
- Mountain Man
Mister, I love the way you wear that hat.
- Bobby Trippe
You don't know nothin'.
- Old man
We killed a man, Drew. Shot him in the back. A mountain man. A cracker.
- Lewis Medlock
What the hell you wanna go fuck around with that river for?
- First Griner
Because it's there.
- Lewis Medlock
It's there alright. You get in there and can't get out, you gonna wish it wasn't.
- First Griner

Trivia

Director John Boorman's son appears near the end of the movie as Ed's little boy.

To minimize costs, the production wasn't insured -- and the actors did their own stunts. (For instance, Jon Voight actually climbed the cliff.)

Ed O'Neill appears at the end of the movie as one of the police officers.

To save costs and add to the realism, local residents were cast in the roles of the hill people.

Author of the novel and screenplay James Dickey appears at the end of the film as the sheriff.

Notes

The opening credits are presented over shots of picturesque Appalachian countryside and waterways, intercut with shots of earthmovers and dynamite blasts flattening a hillside into lots. As the credits roll, voices of the four principal actors, Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox, as their respective characters,"Ed Gentry," "Lewis Medlock," "Bobby Trippe" and "Drew Ballinger," are heard discussing plans for their weekend trip from Atlanta to canoe down the Cahulawassee River before the area is dammed off to create a resort lake. The end credits include the following written statement: "Made on location on the Chattooga River in the Appalachian Mountains. Thanks to the people of Rabun County, Georgia, the U.S. Forest Service, the Georgia Power Company, Earl 'Preach' Parsons, and Frank Rickman." Editor Tom Priestley's surname is misspelled "Priestly" in the onscreen credits.
       The film contains very little background music, and none is heard until the "Duelling Banjos" duet. After that, there are infrequent strains of the melody heard on the soundtrack, and a few short bursts of music at dramatic points within the action. Cox also sings a few bars of an unnamed folksong as he plays his guitar around the campfire on the first night of the trip.
       As pointed out by many contemporary and modern critics, there are a number of ambiguous plot points within the story. For example, the audience, like Ed, Bobby and Lewis, is never certain that Drew was shot, and it is not clear whether or not Ed killed the right "Toothless man." The staging of the scene in which Drew lunges forward into the water could suggest that he was shot but, alternatively could indicate that he deliberately jumped into the water. Similarly, when Ed shoots the man on the ridge, neither he nor the audience can determine with certainty that the man is the same as the one who held Ed at gunpoint during Bobby's rape.
       James Dickey's best-selling, first novel Deliverance, on which the film was based, was told as a first person narrative by Ed, and contains additional scenes both before and after the river trip. Critics of both the novel and the film have postulated that the meaning of the title signifies the characters' "deliverance" from the danger of their rafting trip, or a spiritual deliverance from evil within themselves.
       According to a January 14, 1970 Variety news item, Warner Bros. purchased screen rights to Dickey's novel in January 1970, prior to an excerpt appearing in the February issue of Atlantic magazine, and the book's publication in April 1970. In addition to writing the screen adaptation of his novel, Dickey (1923-1997), who was a well-known regional poet, also played the small role of "Sheriff Bullard," his only film performance.
       According to an February 8, 1971 item in Hollywood Reporter's "Rambling Reporter" column, Warner Bros. initially wanted Steve McQueen for the Lewis role but he turned them down. The film was shot entirely on location, in and around Clayton, GA, the county seat of Rabun County, and on the Chattooga River, which forms the border between northern Georgia and the Southwestern Carolinas. Although the Chattooga was the inspiration for the river in Dickey's story, within the novel and film, it is called the Cahulawassee River. News items and reviews noted that many of the minor characters were portrayed by locals with no previous acting experience.
       Although the film first opened in New York on July 30, 1972, it had a premiere showing at the 5th Atlantic International Film and Television Festival on 11 August and won the festival's Golden Phoenix Award as Best Film. Deliverance became a huge box-office hit, the second-highest grossing film of 1973 [when the film was still playing throughout must of the U.S.], taking in more than $18,000,000 in box-office rentals, according to Variety. The picture received many laudatory reviews, including one from Saturday Review (of Literature) critic Arthur Knight, who stated that the film "leaves the viewer haunted and unresolved in his own mind. What would I have done if I had been there." However, some critics did not appreciate the film's "macho" survivalist theme.
       The picture received Academy Award nominations in the categories of Best Picture, Director (John Boorman) and Film Editor (Tom Priestley), and was included in numerous "top ten" lists. Although Vilmos Zsigmond did not receive an Academy Award nomination for his cinematography, most reviews singled out his work for its excellence. In a New Yorker feature article on July 13, 1988, Dickey's son Christopher wrote that Boorman had inserted many lines of dialogue into his father's screenplay, including the "squeal like a pig" line and had wanted to receive co-screenwriting credit. James Dickey won an arbitration over the credits, and his is the only name listed in the onscreen writing credits.
       Cox and Beatty both made their film debuts in Deliverance. Beatty's then-wife Belinha had a small role in the film as "Martha Gentry," Ed's wife, as did Boorman's son Charlie, who portrayed "Ed's boy." Deliverance was one of two 1972 films made by Reynolds that propelled him to international stardom. The picture went into production at around the time that Reynolds' famous nude centerfold appeared in the April 1972 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine. For information on his career, please consult the entry below for his other 1972 hit, Fuzz.
       According to a Daily Variety news item on November 7, 1972, Warner Bros. refused to cut the rape sequence prior to the film's release in Italy, thus delaying the film's opening there. The male rape scene was controversial at the time of the film's release, with some critics praising its stark realism, while others abhored its violence. Decades after the film's release, it has remained controversial.
       "Duelling Banjos," the melody arranged and played by Eric Weissberg with Steve Mandel, became a hit record. Weissberg, who was one of the country's leading banjo players, won a Grammy and two gold records for "Duelling Banjos" and the sporadic bluegrass score for the picture. A March 15, 1973 Rolling Stone news item erroneously reported that Weissberg played the guitar and Marshall Brickman played the banjo during the duet. Despite the song's title, within the film, the "duel" is actually between a guitar and a banjo.
       "Duelling Banjos" has become an iconic piece of film music, frequently parodied in motion pictures and on television, often used as a brief musical background to evoke a sense of male competitiveness. Since the release of the picture, the expression "the people from Deliverance" has become a popular, negative metaphor for anyone like the hill people depicted in the film.
       On the heels of the film's success, the Chattooga River became a popular tourist destination, particularly for men wishing to recreate the film's trip down-the-rapids theme. According to a number of news items from 1972 through 1975, as many as nineteen people had drowned on the river during such excursions. In a September 3, 1973 Box Office article, Dickey was quoted as expressing his sadness over the deaths, stating, "They wouldn't have gone up there if I hadn't written the book...there's nothing I can do about it. I can't patrol the river. But it just makes me feel awful." By 1975, according to a Box Office news item, the high number of deaths led to the imposition of strict regulations on river usage by the U.S. Forest Service. New restrictions included the use of protective helmets and lifejackets to prevent additional loss of life if kayaks and canoes tipped over in the rapids.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer July 30, 1972

Released in United States August 11, 1972

Released in United States 1996

Released in United States October 1998

Released in United States 1999

Premiered at the 5th Atlantic International Film and Television Festival on August 11, 1972 and won the festival's Golden Phoenix Award as Best Film.

Shown at Chicago International Film Festival October 8-18, 1998.

Shown at Cinequest 1999: The San Jose Film Festival (Vilmos Zsigmond Tribute) February 24 - March 3, 1999.

Based on the James Dickey novel "Deliverance" (Boston, 1970).

Film debuts for Cox and Beatty.

Released in USA on video.

Released in United States Summer July 30, 1972

Released in United States August 11, 1972 (Premiered at the 5th Atlantic International Film and Television Festival on August 11, 1972 and won the festival's Golden Phoenix Award as Best Film.)

Released in United States 1996 (Shown in New York City (Film Forum) as part of program "Out of the Seventies: Hollywood's New Wave 1969-1975" May 31 - July 25, 1996.)

Released in United States October 1998 (Shown at Chicago International Film Festival October 8-18, 1998.)

Released in United States 1999 (Shown at Cinequest 1999: The San Jose Film Festival (Vilmos Zsigmond Tribute) February 24 - March 3, 1999.)

Voted One of the Year's Ten Best English-Languge Films by the 1972 National Board of Review.