×

Deliverance

Deliverance can be considered a stark, uncompromising showdown between basic survival instincts against the character pretensions of a mannered and material society. Unfortunately for John Boorman's heavy film of James Dickey's first novel, it can just as easily be argued as a virile, mountain country transposition of nihilistic, specious philosophising which exploits rather than explores its moments of violent drama.

With:
Jon Voight Burt Reynolds Ned Beatty Ronny Cox Billy McKinney James Dickey

Deliverance can be considered a stark, uncompromising showdown between basic survival instincts against the character pretensions of a mannered and material society. Unfortunately for John Boorman’s heavy film of James Dickey’s first novel, it can just as easily be argued as a virile, mountain country transposition of nihilistic, specious philosophising which exploits rather than explores its moments of violent drama.

Against the majestic setting of a river being dammed, Dickey’s story takes four city men out for a last weekend trip down the river. Unexpected malevolence forces each to test his personal values in order to survive.

It is, however, in the fleshing out that the script fumbles, and with it the direction and acting. The unofficial group leader of the sailing trip is Burt Reynolds, a volatile, calculating, aggressive and offensive tempter of fate.

Why the best friend Jon Voight would maintain an apparent longstanding relationship with Reynolds’ character is an early plot chuck-hole.

What makes for a pervading uneasiness is the implication of the story: the strongest shall survive. The values of Reynolds’ character are repulsive; Ronny Cox is a cardboard-cutout as an intellectual type; Ned Beatty is the easy-going, middle-class figurehead patronized by both the ‘doers’ and the ‘thinkers’ of the world; leaving Voight apparently as the one to lead them out of travail.

In the depiction of sudden, violent death, there is the rhapsodic wallowing in the deadly beauty of it all: protruding arrows, agonizing expiration, etc. It’s the stuff of which slapdash oaters and crime programmers are made but the obvious ambitions of Deliverance are supposed to be on a higher plane.

1972: Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Editing

Deliverance

Production: Warner. Director John Boorman; Producer John Boorman; Screenplay James Dickey; Camera Vilmos Zsigmond; Editor Tom Priestley; Art Director Fred Harpman

Crew: (Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1972. Running time: 109 MIN.

With: Jon Voight Burt Reynolds Ned Beatty Ronny Cox Billy McKinney James Dickey

More Film

  • Ryan Simpkins

    Ryan Simpkins Joins Fox-Disney's 'Fear Street' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Ryan Simpkins has joined Fox-Disney’s second installment of 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment’s “Fear Street” trilogy, based on the novels by R.L. Stine. Leigh Janiak is helming all three films. Previously announced cast includes Gillian Jacobs, Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, McCabe Slye, Kiana Madeira, Olivia Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Ashley Zukerman, Fred Hechinger, Julia [...]

  • MPAA Logo

    Motion Picture Association of America Hires Emily Lenzner as Communications Chief

    The Motion Picture Association of America has appointed veteran public relations executive Emily Lenzner as its executive VP of global communications and public affairs. She will report to Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin and oversee the trade group’s communications team in the U.S. and internationally. Lenzner will start Aug. 1 and be based at the MPAA’s [...]

  • See Taylor Swift Unveil Feline Moves

    See Taylor Swift Unveil Feline Moves for First Time in 'Cats' Behind-the-Scenes Teaser

    Taylor Swift fans finally get to see some of the results of all those years spent studying her roommates Meredith and Olivia — and also, not incidentally, some time with a choreographer — in a new behind-the-scenes teaser for the movie “Cats.” The three-and-a-half-minute featurette has footage of Swift striking crouching feline moves as well [...]

  • CGR’s Immersive Premium Format Set for

    Immersive Theater Technology Set for US Debut in Los Angeles

    French multiplex company CGR Cinemas has selected the Regal LA Live as the first U.S. theater to use its Immersive Cinema Experience technology. The ICE format will be unveiled in the fall at the downtown location in a partnership between CGR and AEG. The companies made the announcement Wednesday but did not reveal which title [...]

  • Amazon Developing Original Series Based on

    Amazon Studios Buys 'Selah and the Spades,' Will Develop Original Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Amazon Studios has acquired worldwide rights to “Selah and the Spades,” a gripping look at a prep school drug dealer, Variety has learned. The film marks the feature debut of writer and director Tayarisha Poe and had its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival where it was a favorite with critics. Amazon has [...]

  • The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con

    The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con Parties and Activations

    Hollywood is heading down the California coast to San Diego because It’s time for 2019 Comic-Con International. The annual cosplay celebration officially kicks off tomorrow, July 18, with a preview happening tonight. Here, Variety gives you a guide to this year’s parties and activations. Make sure to check back for updates. Wednesday, July 17Amazon Prime [...]

  • The Wound African Cinema Berlin Film

    Finance Forum Brings African WIP Into Focus at Durban FilmMart

    The 10th edition of the Durban FilmMart, which unspools parallel to the 40th Durban Intl. Film Festival, will feature 10 fiction and 10 documentary works-in-progress taking part in its annual Finance Forum. The leading co-production market on the continent, the Forum brings together producers, distributors, sales agents, broadcasters, funding bodies, and other industry players from across the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content