Leaving their wives and children at home, four friends – Ed Gentry (John Voight), Lewis Medlock (Burt Reynolds), Drew Ballinger (Ronny Cox) and Bobby Trippe (Ned Beatty) – agree to take a canoe trip down the Cahulawassee River in Northern Georgia. As two of the canoes separate, two of the men encounter locals of the valley and are forced by them to hand over their shotguns. The rather peaceful trip quickly takes a turn for the worse when the hillbillies tie Ed to a tree and hold Bobby at gunpoint, sexually assaulting them. After the brutal encounter, the four men realize that they are facing life-threatening danger and have to work together to survive the savagery and viciousness of the mountain men.
Skillfully condensed in a 110 minute motion picture, Deliverance is a fascinating horror and suspense film about male bonding. Shedding light on the thin line that separates civilization from barbarism, the movie displays the rape of the feminized male, as the two “city boys” are humiliated and brutally abused by the hillbillies. This literal rape is keenly depicted in close connection to the abhorrent defilement of nature, as the mountain men are about to be uprooted by modern civilization. The infamous, uncensored “squeal like a pig” scene in which Bobby is anally raped and Ed is almost orally raped has become a memorable “gift” to our pop culture lexicon as it emphasizes how the characters that are insecure about their masculinity become victims of crass, inhuman sexual violence.
“It has come to represent a primal fear in viewers; not just a fear of the woods, but the fear of willingly going to an unknown place and being violated there.”
— Jeremiah Kipp, Slant Magazine
“The film deals with the decisions made by the men after the rape and how they cope with them.”
— Basement Rejects
Did You Know?
Donald Sutherland, Sam Peckinpah and Jack Nicholson were all initially involved with the movie project. The film’s director stated that “there were no stunt doubles used” and insisted that the river scenes had the color desaturated as he wanted to “dispense with prettiness”. Deliverance was based on the novel by James Dickey who appears towards the end of the film as the sheriff. Review our Gay Themed Films here