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Pacifist or villain?

Author: TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews from Earth
25 September 2009

I haven't read the novel. This is the third Peckinpah film I have watched, the other two being Convoy and The Osterman Weekend. It it thus the best of his that I've seen. The ambiguity throughout this is impeccable, and leaves a ton of room for interpretation and discussion. David and Amy Summer move to rural England, and experience growing harassment from the locals. Gradually, the tension builds in this movie, advancing mercilessly towards the climax that cannot be averted. The script is well-written, with well-developed, psychologically credible characters(whom you may not necessarily like), an interesting plot and dialog that is generally great and holds several memorable lines. Acting tends to be marvelous, and Hoffman may not have wanted to be in this, but he doesn't seem to have allowed that to affect his work. The cinematography and editing are in Sam's distinct style, with effective inter-cutting and use of slow-motion. Atmosphere and mood is carefully built up, and this is quite suspenseful. The music is fitting. There is infrequent moderate language, strong, brutal disturbing and controversial content and violence in this. The DVD I got held only three trailers: Eddie, The Big Easy and Albino Alligator. I recommend this to any fan of the director, the genre, and/or to a lesser extent, anyone else involved in making it. 8/10

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A True Classic!

Author: nama chakravorty from India
20 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

1971 flick 'Straw Dogs' is a true classic. Sure it's disturbing, violent and way to adult. But the fact remains that it's a brave and gripping fare which doesn't bore. In my eye, its one of the best 70's flick from Hollywood. Two Thumbs up!

Performances: Dustin Hoffman is fantastic. He plays his part to perfection. He leaves you speechless towards the climax, which is gory. Susan Grorge looks hot and does a splendid job. The villains are effective.

'Straw Dogs' is a violent drama, with a disturbing rape scene and nudity attached to it. But watch this film because it's brave and gripping.

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I was expecting more

Author: kurciasbezdalas from Lithuania
17 October 2008

I liked idea of this movie but I think it wasn't portrayed very well. Somehow everything happened to fast and many acts of characters appeared unclear to me. The director of this film should more concentrate on psychological pressure that Dustin Hoffman's character gets because one moment he is shy and coward and than another moment he is acting like psychopath. It wasn't clear at which point exactly did he break. This movie considered to be very violent but actually it's nothing compared with nowadays horror movies. Anyways i liked an idea and the movie itself was pretty good. There were some original and realistic death scenes. This movie is pretty good only some things wasn't clear enough to me but you should check it out anyway.

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The funny bit

Author: nick-368 from Caversham, England
13 October 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In Peckinpah's Cornish western, there's a suggestion the co-writer/director may not be taking things too seriously. During the course of the Siege of Trencher's Farm, the odious rat catcher (Jim Norton) is seen riding a kid's tricycle. One of his fellow thugs chases him with it, threatening to wrap it round his neck. The next shot shows them racing each other, both on tricycles, amidst the mayhem. I can't think of any other slapstick moments in Peckinpah's other violent set pieces. And later, Hoffman dispatches the rat catcher with what looks suspiciously like a golf swing. Perhaps it would have been more fitting to the latter's profession if he'd been the one to succumb to the trap.

With neat irony, Hoffman's maths professor has picked the wrong fight in protecting David Warner, who has just (albeit accidentally) killed village strumpet Sally Thomsett (who I suspect of killing the cat). At the moment when he fears his wife Susan George will switch sides to old beau Charlie (Del Henney), he specifically becomes his rival, striking her, then pulling her by the hair, both of which Charlie has inflicted on her prior to the bizarre rape turned love scene turned gang rape. So whilst there's audience pleasure in seeing the bad guys wiped out, are we also to acknowledge this as an anti-violence statement?

One thing's for sure: this mismatched couple isn't going to make it.

Along with those mentioned above, Ken Hutchison is also impressive as the 'bad' rapist, in a uniformly excellent cast.

Interesting to see the name of Tony Lawson as one of the editors. There's occasional time jump editing in this that figures strongly in his work for Nic Roeg (from Bad Timing onwards), and also in Peckinpah's later Cross of Iron, which along with Barry Lyndon Lawson also edited. And, I don't know if it's just me, but I love John Coquillon's grey skies!

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I'll have an answer, or I'll have blood!

Author: lastliberal from United States
21 March 2008

They couldn't give director Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia) an Oscar for this film, so they nominated it for musical score. After all, the film was banned in some areas for excessive violence and sex.

The sex in the film was violent as Amy (Susan George - The House Where Evil Dwells) is raped by what I surmise was an old beau and one of his friends while they had her husband David (Dustin Hoffman) out in the woods hunting birds.

But, the violence didn't stop there as a group of outraged citizens went after a man (David Warner - Titanic, Time After Time) they believed did something to a young girl. Any resemblance that Hoffman had to his Rain Man or Graduate characters disappeared as he strove to protect the man. He definitely showed that there is a violent beast within all of us that is waiting to be unleashed at the right moment.

It was a hard movie due to the violence, but an excellent example of Peckinpah's work.

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Author: karl_consiglio from Malta
3 May 2006

Vicious, compelling, manipulative, obscene, cathartic and confrontational-how many 30 year old films still fuel debate and split opinion as fiercely as the infamous rape and revenge triller Straw Dogs? Its very well made, very well done, and very nasty. Its the last aftershock from a seismic golden age in Seventies cinema-A Clockwork Orange, The Exorcist and few others which were also the last to be granted certificate after almost 20 years in censorship limbo. Despite its powerful merits as a work of art, Straw dogs remains probably the most notorious mainstream film ever made on British soil. While emotionally powerful in a very negative way and also profoundly fatalistic, its also frighteningly soul shatteringly bleak.

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Alternately brilliant and frustrating

Author: (dj_bassett) from Philadelphia
26 August 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Dustin Hoffman and Susan George move to rural England and come into conflict with a gang of local hooligans (anyone who's lived in small towns/rural environments will recognize these types immediately). The situation escalates until finally, through an odd confluence of events, Hoffman takes a stand. Frustrating movie is alternately exceptionally brilliant and ridiculously contrived, sometimes within a few seconds of each other. The plot is incredibly contrived and unbelievable the moment you stop to think about it (who really believes Hoffman and George would ever really end up together, for instance?) , but individual sequences: Susan George's rape, the big standoff at the farm, David Warner killing the girl, the final shot, etc. are immensely well-done. One has the feeling that this, like WILD BUNCH, was an attempt on Peckinpah's part to adapt a genre tale to his own ends; unfortunately, the restrictions of the thriller genre (which STRAW DOGS essentially is) confine Peckinpah in the way a Western never could. Flawed, then, but still well worth watching – a powerful statement of a powerful vision.

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Dustin Hoffman

Author: SourCandies from Canada
11 August 2005

Dustin Hoffman made his second best performance here, besides RainMan. I have always been a huge fan of his, even more so when I saw 'I heart Huckabees'. And Sphere, what a sci-fi flick. I'm not usually into such films, but that was well done. Now that he has made 'Meet the Fockers', I see his standards have lowered, and his days of great cinema attractions are over.

FYI: Hoffman was born in Los Angeles, California and graduated from Los Angeles High School where he was voted "least likely to succeed. His first ambition was to be a concert pianist and he attended the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. Then, with an interest in medicine, he attended Santa Monica City College for a year before dropping out due to poor grades. In an effort to bolster his grades during that year, he took an acting class because he was told "nobody flunks acting."

Weird eh?

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Either face the consequences or it could get worse

Author: jdm2030 from United States
20 July 2005

Straw Dogs was an amazing film. The cinematography, for once, plays a crucial role in alluding to the feelings of the characters. At times, one is immersed in the calm landscape alluding to the introverted nature of the protagonist (Hoffman), while at other times, odd and acute angles intersect with tense scenes. At times, Peckinpah frames the scene in a brilliant manner referring to the medium of film, so not only is it artistic, but a very modern film.

The violence, the tension, and distress are felt throughout the film, one cannot help but feel what Hoffman feels: ignored anger and the inability to confront the issues at hand. The changing camera angles and the montage effects further create within one the effect of the fear of confrontation. The tension needs to be resolved, and because of this one cannot help but keep one's eyes glued to the screen! The tension builds to the point where violence is inevitable and the psyche breaks, bringing about a storm of violence purging the bottled feelings of tension and distress that escalate as the film progresses. Not until the end does one feel the calm after the storm, after the blood has been shed, after the feelings of anger and carnal hatred have been purged.

Overall an amazing film and superb direction. Not to be missed.

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NEVER walk in front of a guy playing darts!

Author: TOMASBBloodhound from Omaha, NE USA
20 July 2005

Nothing raises the ire of an alpha-male more than seeing a hot chick with a nerd. And that is just what we have with Straw Dogs. Dustin Hoffman plays a nerd who is married to a beautiful young English woman. The two have moved to a tiny town in rural England to escape the turmoil of the good old USA and so Hoffman can write some kind of book about math or science, or something nerdy like that. The couple barely gets settled into their new home before the locals begin harassing them.

Hoffman is not a target simply because he is a foreigner. He is targeted because he seems out of place in the local town, especially in the pub. Early on we see him dare to enter the establishment and ask for "any kind of American cigarettes". He also commits a great sin by walking in front of a guy throwing darts. But his greatest sin is the fact that he is married to a former girlfriend of one of the local alpha-males. This only leads to jealousy, and considerable acrimony.

A few of the guys are very slowly helping to upgrade the young couple's home. At one point, the young woman dares to tease the locals with a quick glimpse of her bare breasts. Before you know it, the harassment is under way. A pair of her panties are stolen for starters. Then, their cat is hanged in the closet. (Poor cat! First we see Hoffman throwing fruit at it, then it gets killed!) Eventually, the young woman is brutally raped. Things come to a head when the couple give shelter to a wounded man suspected of murdering a girl back in town. Things are finally solved by a very violent confrontation. We see Hoffman's character change from an even-tempered pacifist to a violent vigilante after he is pushed too far.

This film is actually quite good when you add up all the elements. The film looks great, even though the director likes to use a few too many cuts for my taste. There is one hell of a lot of glass that gets broken. I haven't seen a film break so much glass since Another 48 Hours. Is it some kind of coincidence that the writer for that film (Roger Spotiswoode) was the editor of this film? The violence is raw, but not over the top as some would claim. There is a graphic rape scene, but it's nothing near as bad as the Death Wish movies or Casualties of War. The film is very well-acted, and the conclusion should satisfy many viewers.

This is not a landmark piece of cinema, but it certainly will be worth your time to take a look at it. The unrated version is the only one I have seen, and it would be about 8 of 10 stars.

The Hound.

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