Morose, shockingly violent yet strangely beautiful, DELIVERANCE is a tale of what happens to civilized values when put to the test in a hostile wilderness environment. Four Atlanta businessmen decide to get back to nature by treking to the Appalachian wilds to canoe, hunt, and fish in an

unspoiled environment before it is permanently flooded by a new dam. But what begins as an adventurous vacation becomes a nightmare of survival as they find themselves hunted by vengeful cretinous mountain men. Voight, Reynolds, Beatty, and Cox are the four city dwellers looking to prove their

manhood in the wild. Each of their personal values is put to the test in the course of their deadly adventure. What does it mean to be a man? How far will one go to survive?

This is a tough and powerful portrait of men out of their usual environment. Nor is the deplorable squalor of the mountain communities glossed over. This is not a film for the squeamish. Some have accused the film of exploiting rather than exploring the moments of violent drama culled from James

Dickey's first novel while deemphasizing its ecological concerns. Others were troubled by the seemingly peverse beauty of the film. All agree, however, that the meeting between the uneasy quartet and a deformed albino mountain child is a highlight. Cox sees that the kid has a banjo, picks up his

own, and strums a few notes. The boy answers him. Then the two challenge each other until both go at a frenzied pace banging out a mountain tune. This celebrated "Duelling Banjos" sequence is an eerie moment of grace before the violence begins.

Boorman's direction is gripping if a bit heavy-handed. The rapids scenes in particular are electrifying. Cinematographer Zsigmond presents breathtaking scenes that sear the memory. Reynolds excelled in this rare serious role. Dickey adapted his own novel and appears as a sheriff.