January 28, 2012 4 Min Read

Review by: Al Barnes

Plot: What’s it about?

What’s in a name…everything? Deliverance is as Deliverance does…it’s a play on words…when four friends venture into the backwoods for a canoe trip down the Cahulawassee River. Burt Reynolds leads the way, as John Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox set out in two canoes unaware of the danger that waits downriver that will throw them into the three classic conflicts, man against nature, man against man…well sort of (sorry Ned!)…and man against himself. Hurt, scared and uncertain of the future, an unlikely hero steps up and pushes himself to the outer limits to help his friends survive the canoe trip from hell.

Movies come along at times that break ground on new territory and become earmarked as classics and Deliverance is one of those. They are not always the best as far as sound, camera work or special effects but there is some quality beyond the conventional standards we judge movies by. The obviously raw superficial story combined with the deeper personal struggle each character has to work through blends together to make this brutal story a bit of a shocker especially back in 1972 when it was released. Perfectly cast is Burt Reynolds as the macho leader who chides his characters into going on the risky trip. Probably not the best actor in Hollywood (Reynolds) but I sure have enjoyed a lot of his movies…White Lightning, Gator, Smokey and The Bandit to name a few.

Four actors in a canoe is just what you see as John Boorman (director) and a small crew float, sink and cuss their way down this river sans stand-ins in most of the final scenes. Unable to get insurance for the film due to the dangerous stunts the actors are required to do, they decide to film it anyway at their own risk. Not his first great film, John Boorman teamed with one of the greats of Hollywood, Lee Marvin to do Hell In The Pacific and Point Blank…must see films for any enthusiast worth his salt. The screenplay and the novel (Deliverance) were written by the same man, James Dickey which probably helped keep the movie closer to the original storyline. Look for Dickey in the movie as…well watch it yourself.

Video: How does it look?

A good transfer from the original that wears its age well and offers Standard Version and Widescreen Version if you really need a choice.

Audio: How does it sound?

This is where it pains me to tell you how bad the sound is on this DVD. I don’t remember what the original movie sounded like but I was forced to make a choice with this one. I could poke knitting needles into my eardrums or turn off the 5.1 sound and listen with no effects whatsoever. You would think the choice is obvious but I was worried that the 5.1 might be re-activated by accident so I was tempted to go with the knitting needles…but I turned off the effects instead and took my chances.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Somewhat better in this area with Cast/Crew bios and an original (1972 era) behind the scenes short narrated by the guy who did about a thousand trailers in those days.

Disc Scores