Deliverance (1972) Poster



Jump to: Cameo (1) | Spoilers (7)
In the year after the film's release, more than 30 people drowned in the Chattooga River while trying to replicate the characters' adventures.
Burt Reynolds broke his coccyx while going down the rapids when the canoe capsized. Originally, a cloth dummy was used, but it looked too much like a dummy going over a waterfall. While Reynolds recovered, he asked, "How did it look?" Boorman replied, "Like a dummy going over a waterfall."
The rape scene was filmed in one take, largely because Ned Beatty didn't want to film it repeatedly.
To minimize costs, the production wasn't insured, and the actors did their own stunts. Jon Voight actually climbed the cliff.
Donald Sutherland turned down a role because he objected to the violence in the script. He later said he regretted that decision.
Much of the film had to have its color desaturated because the river looked too pretty.
Burt Reynolds breakthrough role, transforming him from an actor to a film superstar.
Billy Redden, the boy with the banjo, liked Ronny Cox and hated Ned Beatty. At the end of the dueling banjos scene, the script called for Billy to harden his expression towards Cox's character, but Billy couldn't pretend to hate Cox. To solve the problem, they got Beatty to step towards Billy at the close of the shot. As Beatty approached, Billy hardened his expression and looked away.
Billy Redden didn't appear in another film until 2003, after Tim Burton found him doing dishes in a Georgia restaurant and hired him to play banjo in Big Fish (2003).
Even though his character was very clumsy and uncoordinated, Ned Beatty was the only one of the four main actors with any experience in a canoe prior to shooting.
When John Boorman was looking for an actor to play the toothless murderous hillbilly, Burt Reynolds suggested Herbert 'Cowboy' Coward, who had no front teeth, was illiterate, and stuttered. Reynolds had worked with Coward in a Wild West show in Maggie Valley, NC.
Billy Redden didn't know how to play banjo. To simulate realistic chord playing during "Duelling Banjos," another boy, a skilled banjo player, played the chords with his arm reaching around Redden's side while Redden picked. Musicians Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandel play on the soundtrack.
According to Turner Classic Movies, John Boorman wanted Lee Marvin and Marlon Brando to play Ed and Lewis, respectively. After reading the script, Marvin said he and Brando were too old, and suggested that Boorman use younger actors instead. Boorman agreed, and cast Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds.
The rape scene as originally scripted consisted mainly of swearing. The "squeal like a pig" phrase was an attempt to "clean up" the scene for TV viewing. John Boorman liked the "cleaner" version, and used it in the film.
According to director John Boorman, the gas station attendant's jig during "Dueling Banjos" was unscripted and spontaneous.
To save costs and add to the realism, local residents were cast in the roles of the hill people.
John Boorman wanted Vilmos Zsigmond as director of photography because he'd famously filmed the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary. Boorman reckoned that anyone who had filmed under the threat of Russian tanks and guns would be ideally suited to an intensive and grueling shoot, which Deliverance (1972) promised to be.
"Dueling Banjos", which won a Grammy for Best Original Song, is a bluegrass version of "Yankee Doodle".
Author James Dickey gave Burt Reynolds a few days of bow and arrow lessons. By the end, Reynolds was quite proficient.
Jack Nicholson had agreed to play Ed as long as Marlon Brando played Lewis. However, the actors' combined fees added up to more than $1 million, half the movie's budget, forcing director John Boorman to cast cheaper actors.
"Dueling Banjos" was the first scene shot. The rest of the movie was almost entirely shot in sequence.
When John Boorman first tapped Jon Voight to appear in the film, the actor was at a low point. His previous film, The All-American Boy (1973), was deemed an unsalvageable mess. Convinced his career was over, Voight credited Boorman with saving his life, then spending the next few months trying to kill him with extreme stunts during filming.
Ned Beatty's film debut. His voice laughing is the first human sound on the soundtrack.
Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand were married during filming. Five-year-old Charley Boorman was the pageboy.
Much of the dialogue is taken almost verbatim from the source novel.
Sam Peckinpah wanted to direct the movie. When John Boorman secured the rights, Peckinpah directed Straw Dogs (1971) instead.
The cliff climbing scene was shot during the day, and underexposed with a bluish tint added in post-production. "Day for night" shooting was common until the late 1970s because of slow film stocks and anamorphic lenses that didn't let in as much light as spherical lenses, requiring a lot of lights.
Bill McKinney became so closely identified with his role as the Mountain Man that he adopted www.squeallikeapig.com as the name of his official website.
John Boorman discovered Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty working in theater.
The movie was shot primarily on the Chattooga River, which divides South Carolina and Georgia. Additional scenes were shot on the Tallulah Gorge in Georgia, Salem, South Carolina, and Sylva, North Carolina. Shots of the town which did not call for the actors to be present were shot in Monaca, Pennsylvania.
Contrary to popular belief, the deputy at the hospital was played by Lewis Crone, not Ed O'Neill.
9 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Emory University Chemistry professor Claude Terry consulted on the canoe trip and navigating the Chatooga and other rivers. After the movie's release, Claude founded Southeastern Expeditions, which provided raft trips with trained guides on whitewater rivers. Rafting the Chatooga, the Ocoee River in Tennessee, and other whitewater rivers has become very popular, especially in the summer. Claude is now retired.
9 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
John Boorman and writer James Dickey argued constantly. Boorman later referred to making the film as "going 15 rounds with a heavyweight".
John Boorman's gold record for the "Dueling Banjos" hit single was later stolen from his home by Dublin gangster Martin Cahill. Boorman later depicted the crime in his 1998 film about Cahill, The General (1998).
Both Charlton Heston and Henry Fonda turned down the role of Lewis. James Stewart was also considered for the role.
Gene Hackman was offered the role of Ed. He wanted to play Lewis, but was turned down.
8 of 8 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
In his memoirs Charlton Heston said he declined the role of Lewis due to his commitment to Antony and Cleopatra (1972).
John Boorman had no real intention of using a second unit. One side of the river fell belonged to the New York unit, the other belonged to the Chicago unit.
When the Sundance Film Festival first kicked off in Salt Lake City, in August 1978, this was one of the first selections screened.
Despite its title, "Dueling Banjos" actually features a banjo and a guitar.
Author James Dickey would only address the actors by calling them by their character names.
5 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
During filming, rocks destroyed five wooden canoes and dented the aluminum one severely.
7 of 8 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Director John Boorman's son Charley Boorman appears near the end of the movie as Ed's little boy.
The aluminum canoe has the blue and white logo of Grumman, the aircraft company that built the F-14 Tomcat and the Apollo Lunar Module.
9 of 11 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Don Wayne Reno and Arthur Smith are credited with the first recording of "Dueling Banjos" (also known as "Feudin' Banjos" and "The Battle Of The Banjos"). Prior to "Deliverance" both parts were played with banjos, at the same speed all the way through. Almost all modern bluegrass bands play the "Deliverance" version in the key of G. In the movie both the guitarist and banjo players play it in the key of A.
Ronny Cox was the first actor cast.
7 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The first time Jon Voight watched the finished cut of Deliverance was at Warner Bros in their screening room and present were Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson and Jon's father.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty, and Ronny Cox all did their own paddling.
In early 1971, Los Angeles Times columnist Joyce Haber announced Jack Nicholson as one of the leads.
4 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Bill McKinney first auditioned for the role of Lewis Medlock before being cast as the Mountain Man.
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink


James Dickey:  The sheriff, at the end of the film.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Ronny Cox's shoulder is double-jointed. He suggested to John Boorman that his arm appear twisted around his neck when his body was discovered. No prosthetic was used.
For his death scene, Bill McKinney trained himself to hold his breath and not blink for two minutes.
The infamous "squeal like a pig" rape scene was somewhat improvised. The novel and original screenplay detailed the rape with no porcine lines. Beatty later claimed credit for the pig idea. Christopher Dickey, son of author James Dickey, stated in his book "Summer of Deliverance" that the a crewman suggested the line.
An alternate ending was shot, but cut from the final version. It takes place a few weeks, perhaps months, after the main events. It appears in author/screenwriter James Dickey's original script as part of the final dream sequence, but not as the story's literal conclusion. Lewis walks with a crutch (in Dickey's screenplay, his leg is amputated below the knee). Ed, Lewis, and Bobby meet with Sheriff Bullard near the dam in Aintry. The sheriff directs them to a body on a stretcher, then uncovers it so they can look at its face. No identifiable details of the body are shown, a deliberate choice to make the audience uncertain whether the dead man is Drew, Don Job, or the Toothless Man. The body was played by Christopher Dickey, James Dickey's son, who writes about the scene in his memoir, "Summer of Deliverance", and even he doesn't know whose body it was supposed to be. In the screenplay, Ed awakens from the dream, terrified, just before the corpse's face is revealed.
John Boorman was under great pressure to cut most of Bill McKinney's death scene. After an argument, he only deleted six frames.
The broken bone jutting from Burt Reynolds' leg is a broken lamb bone.
Towards the end of the movie, and in the scenes leading up to visiting Lewis in the hospital, Ed and Bobby wear the same shirts (cut, print and style).
3 of 8 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

Contribute to This Page