The One-Line Summary: Four businessmen from Atlanta, Lewis Medlock (Burt Reynolds), Ed Gentry (Jon Voight), Bobby Trippe (Ned Beatty) and Drew Ballinger (Ronny Cox) take a canoe trip in the great untouched wilderness of northern Georgia, expecting to enjoy a bit of pristine natural wonder before local construction of a dam floods the area, but instead find horror as nature and man turn against them.
The Two-Line Blurb: Based on the book of the same name by James Dickey, Deliverance is a gripping, frightening piece of cinema that tries to make a larger statement about civilized people facing uncivilized acts but is more successful as a pure action and drama experience with one significantly terrorizing moment with two violent, backwoods locals. Beautifully photographed and well-acted, Deliverance is a challenging film, and highly influential that leaves a powerful impression whether you agree with the film’s ideology of man versus nature or not.
The Three-Line Set-up: Traveling the (fictional) Cahulawassee River, two of the men are well-equipped for the journey and have great knowledge of the woods while the other two are novice adventures. Lewis (Reynolds) is the most experienced and considered the leader of the group, being a backwoodsman for most of his life. As they move through some fast water and rapids, the two canoes (two men in each) get separated. Bobby (Beatty) and Ed (Voight) row ashore, knowing they are lost, figuring the others will catch up.
The Four-Line Moment: Once on dry land, they encounter two men who walk down a wooded embankment to the water’s edge where the stranded men greet them, offering a friendly hello. The Hillbillies are gruff, one armed with a shotgun, and it’s not long before tensions become frightful as the two rather unkempt, possibly inbred men express violent intentions. Just before the infamous “squeal like a pig” scene, this moment creates terrifying levels of anxiety as Bobby, immediately peeved by their attitude, despite the shotgun, riles the men as Ed tries to pacify. The film that established the cinematic characteristics of and forever defined the negative stereotype of the Appalachian heritage, Deliverance remains an impressive tale of survival against the unimaginable.
The Five-Word Review: Humans are film’s best monsters.