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SAM PECKINPAH'S CONTROVERSIAL BRITISH CLASSIC 'STRAW DOGS'

Dustin Hoffman with Susan George & Ken Hutchison in STRAW DOGS Year: 1971 Rating: *****

American director Sam Peckinpah's THE WILD BUNCH is considered his peak — yet an even wilder albeit initially more subtle and ambiguous bunch exist within the British-set (and extremely British-styled) STRAW DOGS...

Where nuclear scientist Dustin Hoffman attempts much needed study-time in an old stone-cobbled house with younger wife Susan George, who's more like the locals she grew up around than him...

Dustin Hoffman in STRAW DOGS

Which is the entire character-driven theme, strategically backed by Jerry Fielding's cerebral/hypnotic score with the surreal tone of a symphony's rudimentary tuning: subtly orchestrating an indoors mind-game involving Hoffman and George's David and Amy Sumner... until the men they hired to work on the greenhouse become deadly antagonists...

This takes a while, though, as other characters are added, like Colin Welland as a surprisingly open-minded vicar; T.P. McKenna as the local constable; Sally Thomsett a flirtatious young beauty; her old tough father in group leader Peter Vaughan; and David Warner, the Lenny from OF MICE AND MEN type... that only the American feels sympathy for...

Del Henney in STRAW DOGS

Meanwhile, the buried lead involves Amy's background with Del Henney's handsome Charlie Vedder... the latter being surreptitiously shadowed by an extremely jealous competitor...

Not the oblivious husband, who can't connect with his immature wife either way... but the seediest of locals as Ken Hutchison (sidekick with rat-catching scene-stealer Jim Norton) plays ex-convict Norman Scutt... 

Ken Hutchison in STRAW DOGS

With narrowed eyes forming a malicious scowl, Hutchison... the most formidable of the gang — turns a controversial rape sequence... where Susan George eventually obliges to Henney's Charlie — into a double-rape that had the otherwise progressive Peckinpah deemed a Fascist filmmaker by kneejerk liberal intellectuals...

As DOGS' chaotic plot-line, from a couple's bickering to a violent standoff where Bloody Sam feels right at home (while making a picturesque countryside seem sparse and murky) doesn't center on heroes, antiheroes or hellbent villains, but extremely flawed humans fighting for their own place in purgatory.

Susan George in STRAW DOGS
T.P. McKenna in STRAW DOGS
Peter Vaughan in STRAW DOGS
Susan George in STRAW DOGS
Dustin Hoffman in STRAW DOGS
Susan George in STRAW DOGS with Dustin Hoffman
Colin Welland in STRAW DOGS
Sally Thomsett in STRAW DOGS
Peter Vaughan and Donald Webster in STRAW DOGS
Ken Hutchison in STRAW DOGS with Jim Norton
David Warner in STRAW DOGS
Del Henney in STRAW DOGS
Susan George in STRAW DOGS with Sally Thomsett
Sam Peckinpah's STRAW DOGS
Del Henney in STRAW DOGS with Susan George
Ken Hutchison in STRAW DOGS with Dustin Hoffman
Ken Hutchison in STRAW DOGS
Dustin Hoffman in STRAW DOGS
The Dogs from STRAW DOGS
Colin Welland in STRAW DOGS
Cherina Schaer in STRAW DOGS
Susan George in STRAW DOGS
David Warner and Sally Thomsett in STRAW DOGS
Peter Vaughan in STRAW DOGS
Jim Norton in STRAW DOGS
The Dogs from STRAW DOGS
Del Henney in STRAW DOGS with Ken Hutchison
 Ken Hutchison in STRAW DOGS
Colin Welland and TP McKenna in STRAW DOGS
Dustin Hoffman and Susan George in STRAW DOGS
Dustin Hoffman in STRAW DOGS
Dustin Hoffman and Ken Hutchison in STRAW DOGS
Del Henney in STRAW DOGS
Ken Hutchison in STRAW DOGS
Del Henney and Dustin Hoffman in STRAW DOGS
Dustin Hoffman in STRAW DOGS
Poster for STRAW DOGS
Ken Hutchison in STRAW DOGS
Ken Hutchison, discussing STRAW DOGS

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