Dueling Banjos

Deliverance is a story of survival I only knew by reputation alone. R rated films were already well established by 1972, but they were no less shocking to viewers at the time. Since the intense 1970 novel maintained its author James Dickey as a screenwriter. I avoided Deliverance for years with the limited knowledge that it involved banjos and hillbillies. As boundary pushing as it was, Deliverance was still an Oscar nominated hit with a soon-to-be all-star cast. Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds already made an impression, but Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox were just getting started.

Every actor is on equal footing as a group of city folk who take a male bounding canoe trip in the great outdoors. Lewis is the more experienced macho leader, Ed is less confident, Buddy complains the most, and Drew would rather play his banjo. Their trip starts off well with the iconic “Dueling Banjos” scene between Drew and a backwoods boy. The song puts you in a good mood before the terror sinks in. As the four men journey down the river, Ed and Buddy encounter a couple of malicious mountain men.

The most difficult scene to get through involves Buddy being sexually assaulted and forced to “Squeal like a pig.” It only gets worse from there when the men argue over whether to cover up the incident. They face intense rapids, drowning, life threatening injuries, and the remaining mountain man in a desperate attempt to survive. Director John Boorman maintains a realistic feel by having the actors perform stunts themselves. Even their trauma is explored where most movies would leave out the aftermath. Deliverance lures you in and never lets go.


Drew plays with a banjo boy

8 thoughts on “Dueling Banjos

  1. I’m so glad you watched Deliverance. It makes me so mad that it has been relegated to memes and gifs rendering it a clichรฉ. Hence, so many young film lovers (like yourself and my own daughters) have bypassed it. It’s a masterpiece of filmmaking. It is a sincere, complex and intelligent film.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never watched this all the way through myself, but do recall the ‘Squeal’ scene very vividly. I think some of the controversy lies mainly in that Boorman leaves us thinking the foursome killed innocent mountain people, and not the fellas that raped Beatty’s character, and that maybe the foursome had indeed cruelly mocked some of the locals, and weren’t just victims. It is a classic that more younger people who love films should be aware of. I grew up in the 1990’s, so I kinda had some knowledge of this.

    Liked by 1 person

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