Review: Deliverance (1972)

Mountain Monkey October 30, 2014 Reviews 1 Comment on Review: Deliverance (1972)

Review by Mountain Monkey
SCUM Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Deliverance -- More than four white guys in canoes

Deliverance — More than four white guys in canoes

The 1970s seems to have been one of the most fruitful decades for movie genres we just love at SCUM. Blaxploitation, pinku, grindhouse… and in the form of Deliverance (1972), the survival film genre.

Produced and directed by John Boorman, Deliverance was the British director’s biggest success, reaping over US$40 million at the box office, which was no small change. Box office success aside, Deliverance is a gripping thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat, despite being over 40 years old.

Based on a novel by James Dickey – who also wrote the script and cameo’d in a small role at the end of the film – Deliverance features a group of actors that are very much representative of the Hollywood we recognize from the 1970s: a burly and tough Burt Reynolds (sans the trademark mustache), Jon Voight in his younger days, as well as Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox, with the latter two making their big screen debut in Deliverance.

The four actors star as businessmen from Atlanta – Lewis (Burt Reynolds), Ed (Jon Voight), Bobby (Ned Beatty) and Drew (Ronny Cox) – who decide to take a bachelors’ trip into the Georgian wilderness and canoe down a river that’s about to be flooded over to build a dam.

One of them (inbred) country folk the boys meet along the way

One of them (inbred) country folk the boys meet along the way

Things inevitably don’t pan out as smoothly as that and the group meet all manner of inbred country folk as they make their way down the wild river, climaxing in a nasty murder. As Lewis, who has more experience in the wilderness than the rest, tries to steer the men out of a tight spot, even he’s eventually overtaken by the fury of nature and fortune.

Burt (Lewis), o' Burt, what are we going to do with this body?

Burt (Lewis), o’ Burt, what are we going to do with this body?

While the synopsis of Deliverance sounds pretty tame by today’s standards, in some ways, the film was way ahead of its game. The rambling monologue by Lewis at the start of the movie about the environmental catastrophe being wrought on nature by humans could be made today without losing any of its relevance. The ultra-realistic cinematography of the river rapids and the twists and turns of male camaraderie (as well as twisted bodies) are similarly timeless, and lose none of their power through the decades.

Deliverance is one of those movies that defines a certain period of time and a certain genre, but at the same time has classic elements that anyone can relate too. It’s a true Hollywood classic that is universal in its appeal and should be checked out by a younger generation. Well, with those twisted bodies and other nasties, maybe not too young.

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About The Author

Mountain Monkey's cozy childhood afternoons with Thunderbirds were forever shattered by a creepy matinee, 'The Creature from the Black Lagoon'. Things were never quite the same for Mountain Monkey, who developed a fascination for the esoteric side of cinema from a worryingly young age. These days, Mountain Monkey would rather be catching up with some shut eye and the latest Criterion Collection release, but the SCUM mission has come calling. Ohm...

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