Warner Bros. // 1972 // 109 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // October 10th, 2000
What did happen on the Cahulawassee River?
Based on the novel by James Dickey (who also wrote the screenplay), Deliverance is a disturbing tale of four men vacationing alone on Georgia's Cahulawassee River, and the terrifying ordeals that await them in their journey. Directed by John (Excalibur) Boorman and starring Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty, and Ronny Cox, this Academy Award nominated film still packs a powerful punch, even after almost 20 years. In 1999, Warner released this suspense classic on DVD in it's original widescreen format. Shall I "deliver" it? (Strained laughter...)
Four ordinary men have decided to take a camping/canoeing trip on the Cahulawassee River in the middle of Georgia, an escape from their mundane lives in the city. Ed (Voight), Lewis (Reynolds), Drew (Cox) and Bobby (Beatty) have come here for a relaxing trip filled with male bonding and cooking dead things over a fire pit. But this weekend will be anything but. Almost as an omen, they first run into some local hicks in town who don't seem all that "user friendly," if you catch my drift. These people make The Beverly Hillbillies look like The Drummonds from "Diff'rent Strokes." However, in the locals defense, our four "heroes" don't exactly treat them with much respect. They ask around about finding drivers to take their cars down to the end of the river for when they're finished canoeing. Finally, they find two local brothers willing to do it for 40 dollars.
So, off they go into the wilderness, tents and backpacks in hand. The trip continues on without a hitch, that is until they run into a few snags, mainly some local yokels who want to give a couple of these guys some proctology exams. Suddenly, these Billy Bobs want to make it a sunny sodomy Sunday on the river, much to the disenchantment of Drew, Ed, Lewis and (especially) Bobby. All of the sudden the movie takes a hard left into "holy crap," as Reynolds, Voight and the rest of the gang are running...err, canoeing for their lives, trying to out smart this group of Hee-Haws (which you wouldn't think would be so hard, as they have a combined total of 7 teeth between them).
What a weird little move Deliverance is. I have a brother who thinks this is the greatest film on Earth. I had never seen it up to a few months ago. I knew little about it, except for the music and the infamous "squeal like a pig" line. I must say, for a movie made in 1972 this is rather disturbing. I didn't expect it to go many of the places it did, which makes for an interesting film experience (as usual).
Burt Reynolds gives a good performance as Louis, a man obsessed at being "one" with nature. He's kind of like The Crocodile Hunter with out the Aussie charm. It's good to see Burt in this kind or role, as my only exposure to the Reynolds film cannon is the T.V. show "Evening Shade" and the movie Smoky and the Bandit. It's fun to see him in at the top of his game here, as he was in Boogie Nights (not a film I particularly enjoyed, however I thought Reynolds was in fine form). Jon Voight also gives a well wrought performance as Ed, the character most of us could sympathize with. He seems to be genuinely frightened of the situation (where as Louis seems to view this as a game). Most of the movie he is like a deer caught in headlights, flabbergasted that he's been caught in this situation.
The scenery in Deliverance is beautiful, set almost entirely on the Cahulawassee River. My father, who thinks The Bear is a masterpiece, would love this. If you're into the whole scenery and cinematography thing in a film, this is your cup of cocoa.
Deliverance is presented in anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1, with a full frame version on the flip side of the disc. Warner has done a marvelous job of getting the transfer looking clean and clear, sans any artifact or grain that my eye could spot. Blacks were toned right, colors bright with no bleeding. The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 (remastered) and does a fine mix with sound effects, especially scenes where the characters are moving across the river at high speed. No complaints here.
By way of extras, Deliverance won't break any records, but for a small title, it's nice to have a little something. What we get is a small documentary entitled "The Dangerous World Of Deliverance." It's an interesting short that looks like it was a promo for the film from 1972. It follows part of the filming of Deliverance and goes somewhat in depth on author/screenwriter James Dickey. It covers different informational nuggets about the film, including director Boorman and Dickey sparring behind the scenes (yet still having respect for each other), and Voight wanting to do some of his own stunts for "truth to the character." The documentary is not very long, but it's fun to watch once or twice if you're a fan of the movie.
Also included on the disc are standard materials, in the form of a theatrical trailer (which is, surprisingly, widescreen) and some production notes (which basically gives you the same information that the documentary does). Subtitles and languages in English and French are also included. There is no Yakiyama language track, so you're just going to have to get over it.
Although this is not a huge catalog title, I'd have guessed that it would have gotten better treatment in the extras category, especially for being an Oscar nominated film. But, apparently I guessed wrong. Although a very good movie, it does tend to slow down a bit in parts (especially the beginning). Sometimes the performances are a little over the top (hey, it was the early '70s), but all around are good portrayals of the characters. Otherwise complaints are minimum.
I bought Deliverance for only $9.99 at Best Buy, and it was certainly worth the cost. I think that you can usually find this for under 15 dollars at most movie and electronics stores. It has a good transfer with a cute little documentary tacked on. And yes, I used the word cute. I'm in touch with my feminine side. Are you?
Uncuffed and free to go. Just watch out for the squealing pigs (those who see it know what I mean)...court is dismissed!
Review content copyright © 2000 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 109 Minutes
Release Year: 1972
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Behind-The-Scenes Documentary "The Dangerous World Of Deliverance"
* Production Notes
* Theatrical Trailer