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BURT REYNOLDS & JON VOIGHT VENTURE THROUGH 'DELIVERANCE'

Burt Reynolds in DELIVERANCE Year: 1972 Rating: ****1/2

Going backwards, many fans of Burt Reynolds happened upon DELIVERANCE later on, and the biggest difference between that and even his better-than-car-chase movies is the ensemble of four characters who get almost equal story-time and importance to the plot...

A would-be vacationing adventure of businessmen taking to the white water rapids, led by a confident and gusty survivalist-type Reynolds as Lewis, good friend of polar opposite Jon Voight, the actual main character, who, as Ed, can hardly sling a bow-and-arrow while Burt leads one of the all-time great bow-and-arrow rescues...

Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds in DELIVERANCE

And that's after what DELIVERANCE is known for... the term "Squeal like a pig" began here, from a hillybilly-to-city-slicker rape sequence against the miraculously first-time actor Ned Beatty by Bill McKinney, who utters the now-iconic phrase during the most bizarre, nightmarish and daringly exploitative cult-cinema scene ever filmed...

Followed by a proverbial woodsy "courtroom" style argument... combining law and philosophy involving Burt's Lewis and idealist Ronny Cox and about either buying a body or telling the local authorities... that proves Reynolds was a greater semi-young, clean-shaven actor than middle-aged, mustached movie-star...

Jon Voight and Ned Beatty in DELIVERANCE

After which the best parts follow the weakest in which a solo Voight goes after the surviving antagonist, morphing from offensive coward to defensive killer: his edgy character arc is smoother than the surprisingly shoddy, too-dark cinematography in a night scene lasting too long...

Ironically leaving the most suspenseful scenes beyond the river — as director John Boorman's intrepid, brutally daring action flick becomes a slow-burn thriller when, while in the connected small town, Voight and Beatty hide a secret as powerfully subtle as that aforementioned heated argument between pacifist Cox (the guitar part of the famous dueling banjos) and the man who'd do no better... Burt Reynolds... actually just getting started.

Jon Voight in DELIVERANCE
Burt Reynolds in DELIVERANCE
Jon Voight in DELIVERANCE
Burt Reynolds in DELIVERANCE
Bill McKinney and Herbert 'Cowboy' Coward in DELIVERANCE
Burt Reynolds in DELIVERANCE with Ronny Cox
Burt Reynolds in DELIVERANCE
Burt Reynolds in DELIVERANCE
Jon Voight in DELIVERANCE
Jon Voight in DELIVERANCE
Burt Reynolds in DELIVERANCE
Source author James Dickey in DELIVERANCE
Jon Voight in DELIVERANCE
Jon Voight in DELIVERANCE with Ronny Cox
Billy Redden in DELIVERANCE
Burt Reynolds in DELIVERANCE with Ned Beatty
Burt Reynolds in DELIVERANCE
Burt Reynolds in DELIVERANCE with Ronny Cox

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