Newest Review: ... pet cat....graduating to darker, nastier things, and despite David's awkward attempts at befriending the men, he and Amy find themselves... more
Beware of the locals!
Straw Dogs (DVD)
Member Name: GentleGenius
Straw Dogs (DVD)
Advantages: Shocking in its day, well-acted by some of the cast
Disadvantages: Not Dustin Hoffman's best role, overly long, a bit boring in parts
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 120 mins
DIRECTOR: Sam Peckinpah
PRODUCER: Daniel Melnick
SCREENPLAY: Sam Peckinpah & David Zelag Goodman
MUSIC: Jerry Fielding
Dustin Hoffman as David Sumner
Susan George as Amy Summer
VILLAGE CHARACTERS: Riddaway, Charlie Venner, Tom Hedden, Major John Scott, Chris Cawsey, Charlie Venner, Norman Scutt, Harry Ware, Bobby Hedden, Janice Hedden, Harry Ware and John Niles
FILM ONLY REVIEW
When David Sumner decides to settle in England with his wife Amy in Wakely, which is the Cornwall village where she grew up, the tension begins from the day they move into a cottage about a mile or so down the road. When David visits the village pub to buy some cigarettes, he is viewed as some sort of bizarre outsider and feels very awkward amidst the local clique who doesn't appear to extend a warm welcome to strangers.
Back home at the cottage, things aren't always hunky dory between David and Amy, as she gets angry when he immerses himself in his work as a mathematician. When Amy constantly nags David to do household tasks, such as minor repairs, he decides to employ a team of local men to do some odd jobs, which include re-roofing one of the cottage's out-buildings. One of the workmen is Amy's ex-lover who through jealousy, takes an instant dislike to David.
Before long, the village workmen begin a campaign of harassment against David and Amy, beginning with strangling their pet cat....graduating to darker, nastier things, and despite David's awkward attempts at befriending the men, he and Amy find themselves being victimised in a way that is all but impossible to deal with.
That sets the scene....watch it yourself to learn more.
When I first saw Straw Dogs back in the early 1970s, it was considered a very shocking film, and I can remember that the censors in my home town wouldn't allow the film to be shown at local cinemas for a couple of years after its release, so I had to hop on the train and go to London to see it. I clearly recall leaving the cinema feeling rather spaced-out and shocked, as I'd never seen anything quite so sinister and violent before. It played on my mind for some time afterwards, and I didn't take the plunge into watching the film again until very recently.
This time around, I can honestly say that I found Straw Dogs nowhere near as shocking as I did back in the 1970s, most likely due to having seen much worse in more recent years which quite likely and up to a point has inured me to certain aspects of cinematic savagery.
As probably would be expected, Dustin Hoffman is very good in his role as David Sumner - I don't think he could act badly if he tried - but for me, this is by no means anywhere near the best part I've seen him play. Susan George seems to oscillate between the extremes of coming across as very irritating...sometimes a little vacuous...yet at other points in the film her truer acting abilities shine through. On my recent viewing of Straw Dogs, I couldn't here and there detach myself from Susan George reminding me more than a little of Anneka Rice, and that's a sure fire way to alienate me from anything.
My favourite cast members were the boozy, foul-mouthed, thuggish male villagers who David hired to repair his roof. Although their behaviour at certain points in the film is bizarrely over the top (I'm sure small villages in Cornwall weren't that backward during the early 1970s), each sub-cast member projects a sinister loutishness that actually is quite disturbing and a bit scary.
One thing which particularly threw people up in arms when Straw Dogs first did the cinema rounds in the early 1970s was the rape scene and the way it was portrayed....with most people being deeply shocked once they'd seen the film. I have to stick my neck out and say that to me, it doesn't come across as intensely as rape is portrayed in some other films, one of those being from the same year as Straw Dogs, so it wasn't an era or a censorship thing. I'm not saying that it is unrealistic or any less shocking than any other film portrayal...merely that it doesn't hit me personally quite so severely as I've seen elsewhere.
Overall, Straw Dogs does have more of a feel of a play about it than a film as much of the storyline revolves around ordinary, domestic life. The music is utterly unmemorable for me as I've never noticed it, but I do feel that some of the buildup to the main event is overly long and perhaps unnecessary. There are even parts of the film that I find a little tedious, and the violent finale, although very nasty, I don't find anywhere near as shocking as I did some forty years ago.
This is very much a film of its era, and I have noticed that yet another of these infernal remakes has occurred - one which I can't comment on as I haven't seen it, but despite me not being as enamoured with the original Straw Dogs as a lot of people are, I still feel that it's an important piece of historic cinema that should be left alone, un-tampered with!
The 1971 version of Straw Dogs probably would appeal to those who like the psychological thriller genre, but if you haven't seen it and plan to, I'd urge you not to anticipate violent content to the levels that more modern productions are so explicit with. It is true that it's a nasty film and very violent, but when you're watching a movie where you can see punches being thrown that obviously aren't hitting their target - yet are meant to - and are filmed that way due to less advanced levels of technology, it's kind of difficult to take it too seriously or be too upset by it.
At the time of writing, Straw Dogs can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: from £13.44 to £59.99 !!!
Used: from £2.15 to £18.99
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ May also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Summary: It was good for its time, but needs to be left there and not regurgitated