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Deliverance: 40th Anniversary (Blu-ray Review)

30 Jun, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

$34.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R.’
Stars Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox.

Deliverance is a seminal outdoor adventure movie about four suburban Atlanta men who in 1972 forego a weekend of golf for a two-day canoe trip on the Cahulawassee River in Northern Georgia, before it is dammed and converted into a “dead lake” — the latter a reference made by the group’s charismatic leader, Lewis (Burt Reynolds, in his first and arguably best movie role).

Far removed from their comfort zone, the men — mild-mannered Ed (Jon Voight), smug Bobby (Ned Beatty) and wide-eyed guitar player Drew (Ronny Cox) — soon discover that the lush beauty and challenges of the white water (expertly captured by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond) pale in comparison to the vulgarities of man — in this case, a pair of demented hillbillies.

Deliverance is as much known for the notorious sodomy rape scene — “Can you squeal like a pig? Can you?” a deranged Mountain Man (Bill McKinney, who died Dec. 1, 2011) barks at hapless Bobby — as it is for the “Dueling Banjos” sequence with Drew and a local boy. The film — 40 years later — still resonates poet James Dickey’s bestselling same-titled novel with aplomb. It was nominated for three Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director (John Boorman) and Best Film Editing (Tom Priestley).

The 40th anniversary Blu-ray release, which includes a mini picture book/disc case, features commentary from Boorman and videos, “Deliverance: The Beginning,” “Deliverance: The Journey,” “Deliverance: Betraying the River and “Deliverance: Delivered,” found on the 2007 BD release.

Notable to the current release is “The Dangerous World of Deliverance” vintage featurette, in addition to the new video “Deliverance: The Cast Remembers.” Filmed at the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film & Theater in Jupiter, Fla., the latter segment finds the original actors — now in their 70s — waxing nostalgic about a movie that changed their lives.

“It was my ticket out of television,” Reynolds said. “And I had a pretty good ride in movies because of it.”

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