Critic Consensus: Given primal verve by John Boorman's unflinching direction and Burt Reynolds' star-making performance, Deliverance is a terrifying adventure.
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as Lewis Medlock
as Ed Gentry
as Bobby Trippe AKA Chubby
as Drew Ballinger
as Old Man
as First Griner
as Second Griner
as Mountain Man
as Toothless Man
as First Deputy
as 2nd Deputy
as Ambulance Driver
as Highway Patrolman (uncredited)
as Deputy Queen
as Mrs. Biddiford
as Taxi Driver
as Toothless Man
as Boy at Gas Station
as Martha Gentry
as Ed's Boy
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Critic Reviews for Deliverance
Each of the four lead performances is exceptional, none more so than Burt Reynolds' beefy, supercilious Lewis.
John Boorman's 1972 film of the James Dickey novel has a beautiful visual style that balances the film's machismo message.
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.
A fantasy about violence, not a realistic consideration of it.
Audience Reviews for Deliverance
This thriller concerns the exploits of four good old Southern boys trekking down a huge, thrashing river. Set in a very incestuous, back-hoe section of Georgia, the film becomes unsettling as soon as they venture into a small town in search for drivers. The infamous dueling banjo/guitar scene occurs right away, putting it in the forefront of your mind. In this perturbing setting the characters move around easily, stretching out their legs and hamming it up with one another. Though it's masked by the sexual assault and nature vs. man narrative the real theme of the film is the state of manliness and its cousin, machismo. Personified beefcake Burt Reynolds, provides the perspective of pure manliness in the character of Lewis: he hunts and fishes with a crossbow, sleeps under a ramshackle homemade tent, sloughs through mansplaining monologues about his intrepid wanderings in the wilderness, and revels in his absurd testosterone fueled opinions on manhood. The other three are there to watch him boast and bray, themselves trying to find their manliness amongst the rushing rapids of the river. The story concerns the four men, but it's really the story of Ed (Voigt), who fails to live up to Lewis' expectations: he can't hunt, can't protect himself and Bobby (Beatty), doesn't argue with Louis, and can't save Drew (Cox) from the river's wrath. Near the end of the film he is tasked with defending them and this time he succeeds, to his detriment. Everything serves as a metaphor in this film, including, unfortunately, the infamous piggy scene. Beatty is the only one of the four to eschew traditional roles of masculinity, and so he is the one who is victimized. Near the end of the film we think that this film has been about hillbillies threatening four men on the river, and when the second murder occurs it seems obvious that everything has been righted for our heroes. In fact, it serves as another metaphor, which shows that relying on animalism for decision-making incurs violent, and deadly, repercussions. The ending of the film dragged far too long, as this message is waylaid in order for guilt to be shifted between the remaining members of the troupe, belying the point of the rest of the film. Otherwise this was a thoughtfully crafted film about the role of manhood and how it denigrates men, making them murderous brutes.
Four friends explore the whitewater rapids of country backwoods, but their fishing trip turns tragic when one of their members is sexually assaulted. In what could be a cliche horror/slasher film, Deliverance explores themes of civilization and ethical dilemmas. The scenes between the backwoods, redneck natives and the cultured, civilized explorers take on a unique significance because we're meant to question the characterizations with which we approach these people. Are the civilized really that civilized? Does one have to respond to violence with violence in a violent context? Strong performances by Jon Voight, whose character acts as a kind of moral center to the film (the film is - in some ways - a battle for Ed's soul), and Burt Reynolds, the adaptable tough guy, carry the film. Overall, this is a classic for good reason, a film that takes serious issues with the gravity they deserve.
"Sometimes you have to lose yourself 'fore you can find anything." Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it's turned into one huge lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a river-rafting trip they'll never forget into the dangerous American back-country.
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