Deliverance (1972) Poster



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Billy Redden, the boy with the banjo liked Ronny Cox, and disliked Ned Beatty. When at the end of the dueling banjos scene, the script called for Billy to harden his expression towards Drew Ballinger, Cox's character, he was unable to fake dislike for 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 - exactly as intended.
Burt Reynolds broke his coccyx while going down the rapids when the canoe capsizes. Originally, a cloth dummy was used, but it looked too much "like a dummy going over a waterfall". After Reynolds was injured and recuperating, he asked, "How did it look?" The director replied, "Like a dummy going over a waterfall."
Partially shot on the Chattooga River, over 30 people subsequently had drowned in their attempts to replicate the characters' adventures a year after the film's release.
To minimize costs, the production wasn't insured - and the actors did their own stunts. (For instance, Jon Voight actually climbed the cliff.)
The notorious rape scene was filmed in one take, largely at the insistence of Ned Beatty who didn't want to film the scene repeatedly.
Ned Beatty's first film.
According to director John Boorman, the jig done by the filling station attendant during the "Dueling Banjos" sequence was unscripted and spontaneous on the part of the actor.
Donald Sutherland turned down a role in this film because he objected to the violence in the script. He later admitted to regretting that decision.
The rape scene as originally scripted mainly consisted of swearing. The "squeal like a pig" phrase came from a need to have the scene made more suitable for TV viewing. As it happened, John Boorman liked this "cleaner" version, and used it in the film.
According to Turner Classic Movies, John Boorman wanted Lee Marvin and Marlon Brando to play Ed and Lewis, respectively. After reading the script, Marvin suggested that he and Brando were too old, and that Boorman should use younger actors instead. Boorman agreed, and cast Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds.
When John Boorman first tapped Jon Voight to appear in the film, the actor was at a low point as his previous film The All-American Boy (1973) was deemed to be an unsalvageable mess. Convinced his career was over, Voight credited Boorman with saving his life. And then spending the next few months trying to kill him, due to the nature of all the extreme stunts in the film.
Ned Beatty was the only one of the four main actors to ever have paddled a canoe prior to shooting the movie, which is ironic since his character is the most inept and clumsy. The others learned on set.
Author James Dickey gave Burt Reynolds a few days of bow and arrow lessons and by the end, Reynolds was quite accurate and proficient with the weapon.
John Boorman was looking for an actor to play the toothless one of the pair of murderous hillbillies. Burt Reynolds suggested Herbert 'Cowboy' Coward, who had no front teeth, stuttered and was illiterate. Reynolds had worked with Coward in a Wild West show in Maggie Valley, NC.
Unlike Ronny Cox with his guitar, actor Billy Redden did not know how to play banjo for the famous "Duelling Banjos" scene. To simulate the realistic chord playing on the banjo, another boy, who was a skilled banjo-player, played the chords with his arm reaching around at Redden's side while Redden picked. On the soundtrack, musicians Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandel are actually playing.
This movie is in film history considered to be the "breakthrough" film of Burt Reynolds. By breakthrough, it marked his transition from acting and starring into super-stardom. This film reflects the start of the period of Reynolds enormous star power and box-office pulling power, his machismo persona being mixed with a critical recognized serious dramatic performance.
"Dueling Banjos", which won a Grammy for Best "Original" Song, is simply a bluegrass version of "Yankee Doodle".
Much of the film had to have its color desaturated as the river simply looked too pretty.
Billy Redden didn't appear in another film until Tim Burton found him doing dishes in a Georgia restaurant and hired him to play banjo in _Big Fish_.
"Dueling Banjos" was the first scene shot. The rest of the movie was almost entirely shot in sequence.
John Boorman wanted Vilmos Zsigmond as his director of photography as he had 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 such an intensive and grueling shoot as Deliverance (1972) promised to be.
Bill McKinney became so identified with his chilling role as the Mountain Man that he adopted www.squeallikeapig.com as the name of his official website.
To save costs and add to the realism, local residents were cast in the roles of the hill people.
Author of the novel and screenplay James Dickey appears at the end of the film as the sheriff.
Originally, Sam Peckinpah wanted to direct the movie. When John Boorman secured the rights, Peckinpah directed Straw Dogs (1971) instead.
In his memoirs Charlton Heston mentions that he declined the role of Lewis due to his commitment to filming Antony and Cleopatra (1972).
Both Charlton Heston and Henry Fonda turned down the role of "Lewis" before it was offered to Burt Reynolds, who took it.
Jack Nicholson had agreed to play the part of Ed as long as his good friend Marlon Brando played Lewis. However, the combined fee of the two actors came to over $1 million, half the movie's budget, so director John Boorman was forced to go with cheaper actors.
John Boorman discovered both Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty working in theater. Neither had substantial film experience previously.
James Stewart was also considered for the part of Lewis.
Despite the title of the piece, "Dueling Banjos" actually features a banjo and a guitar.
When Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand were married during this shoot, Charley Boorman (then 5) served as a pageboy at the wedding.
The broken bone jutting from Burt Reynolds' leg is a broken lamb bone.
Not only was this movie Ned Beatty's first feature, his voice (laughter) is the first human sound to appear on the soundtrack.
The movie was shot primarily on the Chattooga River, dividing South Carolina and Georgia. Additional scenes were shot on the Tallulah Gorge in Georgia as well in Salem, South Carolina and Sylva, North Carolina. Monaca, Pennsylvania is represented in shots of the town which did not call for the actors to be present.
John Boorman had no real intention of using a second unit. As it transpired, one side of the river fell within the remit of the New York unit, the other belonged to the Chicago unit. This protracted state of affairs just confirmed to Boorman why it was pointless using a second unit.
John Boorman's gold record for the "Dueling Banjos" hit single was later stolen from his home by the Dublin gangster Martin Cahill. Boorman later depicted this very same crime in his 1998 film about Cahill, The General (1998).
Five wooden canoes were destroyed in the making of the film, while the aluminum one was severely dented by the rocks.
Director John Boorman's son Charley Boorman appears near the end of the movie as Ed's little boy.
The cliff climbing scene was shot "day for night", meaning that the footage was shot during the day and underexposed with a bluish tint (in post-production). Because film stocks were so slow (up until the late 1970s), and the anamorphic lenses were slow (didn't let in as much light as spherical lenses), and a plethora of lights were often needed, day for night was common practice for many films with night scenes during that period of filmmaking. Faster film stock has made the technique less common.
Numerous sources erroneously report the deputy sheriff portrayed by Lewis Crone as an early uncredited role of Ed O'Neill.
Consulting on the canoe trip and navigating the Chatooga and other rivers was provided by a Emory University Chemistry professor, Claude Terry. After the movie was released , floating the Chatooga River, and rivers in Tennessee and Claude founded 'Southeastern Expeditions,' a company that 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 with amateur lovers of the outdoors, with many individuals making these trips during the summer. Claude Terry has since retired, and another operator provides these trips.
Credited with the first recording of "Dueling Banjos" (its most common title, also known as "Feudin' Banjos" and "The Battle Of The Banjos") is Don Wayne Reno and Arthur Smith. Prior to "Deliverance" both parts were played with banjos, and it is 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 have capos on the second fret, denoting it is in the key of A.
The aluminum canoe has the blue and white logo of Grumman, the famed aircraft company and builder of such craft as the F-14 Tomcat and the Apollo Lunar Module.
John Boorman and writer James Dickey had a highly combative relationship, arguing constantly. Boorman later referred to it as "going 15 rounds with a heavyweight".
When the Sundance Film Festival first kicked off in Salt Lake City (August 1978), this movie, along with A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), Midnight Cowboy (1969) and Mean Streets (1973) were among the very first selection to be screened.
Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox all did their own paddling.
Ronny Cox was the first of the actors to be cast.
In early 1971, Jack Nicholson was announced as one of the leads by Los Angeles Times columnist Joyce Haber.
Towards the end of the movie and in the scenes leading up to the visiting Lewis, Burt Reynolds in the hospital Ed, Jon Voight and Bobby, Ned Beatty are wearing the same shirts, (cut, print and style).
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Ronny Cox's shoulder is double-jointed and it was he that suggested to director John Boorman that his arm appear twisted around his neck when his body is discovered. No prosthetic was used.
For his death scene, Bill McKinney trained himself to hold his breath and not blink for two whole minutes.
The infamous scene in which Bobby (played by Ned Beatty) is raped and ordered to "squeal like a pig" by the hillbilly played by Bill McKinney was somewhat improvised. The novel and original screenplay detailed the rape with no porcine lines. Beatty later claimed credit for the pig idea, but Christopher Dickey, son of author James Dickey, stated in his book "Summer of Deliverance" that the line was suggested by a crewman.
An alternate ending was shot, but cut from the final version. This other ending apparently takes place a few weeks (or perhaps months) after the main events of the movie. 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. The scene shows Lewis, Burt Reynolds, walking with a crutch (in Dickey's screenplay, his leg is supposed to be amputated below the knee). The sequence depicts Ed, Jon Voight, Lewis and Bobby, Ned Beatty, meeting with Sheriff Bullard, James Dickey, near the dam in Aintry. The sheriff displays to them a body placed on a stretcher and uncovers it, so that they can look at its face. No identifiable details of the body are shown, which was a deliberate choice, to make the audience uncertain whether the dead man is Drew, Ronny Cox, Don Job, Bill McKinney, or the Toothless Man, Herbert 'Cowboy' Coward. 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 terrified from this dream, just before the face of the corpse is to be revealed.
John Boorman was under great pressure to cut most of Bill McKinney's death scene, but argued for it and ultimately only deleted six frames (one quarter of a second.)

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