TV Movie Review: Deliverance

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(1972) ★★★★★

Sky Movies Select: Sunday 17 January, 10:00pm

Burt Reynolds and his three big-city pals find a nasty surprise when they go down to the Georgia backwoods for a weekend’s canoeing. A terrifying trip through alien and hostile territory, observed by British director John Boorman with devastating detachment. His haunting, strangely beautiful movie continues to influence film-makers and, after Duelling Banjos, hillbilly music never again seemed quite so jolly.

Reynolds’ macho screen image was cleverly undercut in James Dickey’s sparse screenplay (adapted from his own novel) and the casting all round was perfect: Jon Voight, Ronny Cox and, squealing like a pig, Ned Beatty. Brilliantly photographed by Vilmos Zsigmond, Deliverance remains the king of all wilderness thrillers. Sadly, Zsigmond died on January 1, age 85. He kept working up until his death. His final two completed features were Compulsion (2013) and Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks (2014), and he was attached to five further films due to be released in 2016.

Exemplary early work includes McCabe & Mrs Miller, Scarecrow, The Deer Hunter and Spielberg’s Close Encounters. His most notable later work includes Brian De Palma’s The Black Dahlia, and three Woody Allen films: Melinda and Melinda, Cassandra’s Dream, and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. Film4 has The Sugarland Express (Spielberg’s 1974 road trip) on Wednesday at 1.05am as its late-night tribute to an outstanding cinematographer.

Certificate: 18

Duration: 104min

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Other Showings Date & Time
Sky Movies Select Monday, 25 January at 10:00PM