The classic 1972 action-thriller DELIVERANCE was based on a book by author James Dickey (look for a cameo by him in the film as the suspicious Sheriff). The story focuses on four friends, Lewis (Burt Reynolds), Ed (Jon Voight), Drew (Ronny Cox) and Bobby (Ned Beatty) who take a weekend canoe trip down the (fictional) Cahulawassee river in the wilds of rural Georgia.
The film brilliantly sets up an ominous atmosphere when the group arrive at a rundown house deep in the woods. Their plan is to take canoes down river and hire some of the kind folks to drive their vehicles down to their destination point. There they meet a family of true hillbillies including a young boy (Billy Redden) who looks to be a product of inbreeding. This leads to one of the film’s most famous sequences as Drew and the boy have a banjo duel. The instrumental piece appropriately titled “Dueling Banjos” went on to be an iconic musical cue representing the creepy redneck in pop culture.
The four friends are clearly out of their element, but Lewis, the macho one in the group leads them on like a kid playing cowboys and Indians. His personality is of the fearless hunter who believes in simplicity of life. He comes armed with a bow and arrow that he fishes with and tries to convey his do or die outlook to the others. Ed is contemplative and civilized, Drew the peaceful artist and Bobby the overweight goofy one. What begins as a carefree getaway is ruined when Ed and Bobby encounter two deranged mountainmen (Bill McKinney and Herbert ‘Cowboy’ Coward) that attack them and ultimately change their lives forever.
British Director John Boorman had previously made the crime revenge actioner Point Blank (1967) and the World War II island adventure Hell in The Pacific (1968) which both starred Lee Marvin. With Deliverance he looked at the survival instincts of human beings lost outside their safety zone. The movie was also seen as an allegory for the Vietnam War which was raging at the time it was made.
The furious illustrated poster above has the kind of bold pop art style we love. It is a truly striking 3D visual which conveys the film’s journey taking the characters and us as viewers into unknown territory.
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