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Thread: Straw Dogs

  1. #41
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    I think that's the main problem with this film, Hoffman turns into Dirty Harry and yet the fact his wife was raped isn't addressed in the film. It's virtually overlooked.



    Where as in 'Get Carter', Michael Caine turns into the Terminator after discovering his under-age niece/daughter? was lured into a sex film ring (which of course resulted in his brother getting murdered for threatening to report the local gangsters involved to the Police). Okay Caine was a nasty hit-man anyway and it wasn't a happy ending for anyone.



    But I can watch 'Get Carter' over and over again, but I can't stomach 'Straw Dogs'.

  2. #42
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    Well I watched it again last night and I love the music, but it's a very harrowing viewing experience.



    But would Susan George's character really want to stay in that house with loads of corpses whilst her husband was heading for the hospital/police station?



    Either way it's a film worth seeing, even if there's a few plots holes and it doesn't quite add up. Those local Neanderthals certainly got what was coming to them though.

  3. #43
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    What I didn't like is the fact Hoffman wasn't protecting his house and taking out the nasty locals for what they'd done to his wife and their pet cat.

    No he was just protecting the local village idiot (played masterly as ever by the excellent David Warner) from being lynched. Not that I've got a problem with that, because Warner's character accidentally killed Sally Thomsett character.
    But I thought this was the straw that broke the camel's back. these guys had been doing lots of nasty things to him and his family and they finally pushed him too far...

  4. #44
    Senior Member Country: Spain Rowdon's Avatar
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    I haven't seen it for years, but my sister - something of a Hoffman fan - re-viewed it recently and was struck by the same thing as many posters: Hoffman doesn't even know about the rape when he wreaks his 'revenge'. A little editing or one extra scene (which was probably on the cutting room floor) would have solved that.



    Or are you calling my sister wrong?

  5. #45
    Senior Member Country: United States will.15's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowdon
    I haven't seen it for years, but my sister - something of a Hoffman fan - re-viewed it recently and was struck by the same thing as many posters: Hoffman doesn't even know about the rape when he wreaks his 'revenge'. A little editing or one extra scene (which was probably on the cutting room floor) would have solved that.



    Or are you calling my sister wrong?
    That's the way I remember it, but it's not an editing mistake. He finds out something happened when the instigator of the attack says something to his wife when he is in the house.



    Keep in mind Hoffman isn't out and attacking these guys, like Charles Bronson going out of his way to kill bad guys in Death Wish. They are trying to forcibly enter his house.

  6. #46
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain vincenzo's Avatar
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    I don't think he finds out about the rape either. When Hoffman returns from the shoot and comments that they 'stuck it' to him on the moor, SG comments that "They also serve who sit at home and wait" though it seems to bypass him.



    I think it's a brilliant film, and the atmosphere of building menace is superb.

  7. #47
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    It is a brilliant film, but also a very nasty and unpleasant one to watch.



    It's also quite timeless as there's no swinging London or anything that really dates the film that much. Not that there's anything wrong with scenes of swinging London, because the film needs some lighter moments to take the edge off it.



    Instead it's pretty uneasy from the off and never really lets up.



    Plus I guess the views of rape have changed and perhaps back then Susan George's character would have been partly blamed for allowing the bloke/blokes into her house in the first place?



    Where as today the fact she at least tried to resist would mean they were definitely the guilty party.

  8. #48
    Senior Member Country: United States will.15's Avatar
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    The rape is the most controversial part of the movie. No way could that be filmed today with George ending up liking the first rape (from someone she may have had a previous relationship with).

  9. #49
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain vincenzo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by taffy1967
    It is a brilliant film, but also a very nasty and unpleasant one to watch.
    Yes I fully agree. It's as far away from The Strange Affair or All Neat In Black Stockings than anything SG had done. It's also devoid of any sympathetic or caring characters. TP McKenna is the only decent person in the film, though his character is thinly drawn
      Spoiler:
    and comes to a sticky end without us learning much about him.

  10. #50
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    The scent and sensibilities of controversy

    Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs was notorious, but can the remake repeat its incendiary impact? Geoffrey Macnab investigates

    Friday, 21 October 2011

    Why would anyone want to remake Straw Dogs? That is the question that Rod Lurie's new version of Sam Peckinpah's 1971 film has provoked. Peckinpah's version of Scottish writer Gordon Williams' novel The Siege of Trencher's Farm is a pariah of a movie. Notorious for its rape scene and other instances of unbridled violence, this was a film that disgusted even hard-bitten British critics and became labelled as a video nasty.

    Forty years on, it is instructive to read the initial reviews of Straw Dogs in the UK press. Many of the same reviewers who had been fighting against censorship found themselves on the same side of the battle lines as "Mrs Whitehouse and Daddy Longford and Cliff Richard," as critic David Robinson put it. They called for the film to be banned, and attacked the BBFC for passing it almost entirely uncut.

    "What the film censor has permitted on the screen in Straw Dogs makes one wonder whether he has any further useful role to play in the cinema industry," the Evening Standard complained. "To have made such a vicious and degrading film appears an aberration of judgement on someone's part. To pass it for public exhibition... is tantamount to a dereliction of duty."

    "Can a film be brilliantly made but thoroughly bad?" asked The Guardian, answering a resounding yes to its own question. Predictably, the distributors took advantage of all the huffing and puffing from the critics, quoting the most negative reviews on posters, thereby drumming up further business.

    Straw Dogs wasn't just another exploitation pic that could be dismissed as genre fare for sadistic viewers. This was a biggish-budget Hollywood film from a major director near the height of his powers and with a top star (Dustin Hoffman.) What irked its detractors was that its violence wasn't gratuitous. It was underpinned by its writer/director's bleak view of humanity. As Peckinpah's biographer David Weddle notes, the director had steeped himself in the work of the anthropologist Robert Ardrey at the time he made Straw Dogs. Ardrey contended that the capacity for (and enjoyment of) violence was a basic human instinct... and that man remained, in essence, a murderous ape.

    The film tells of the metamorphosis of David Summer (Hoffman), a timorous academic. He has come with his young wife Amy (played by the 20-year-old Susan George) back to her home village on the Cornish coast. He hopes to spend a year doing research. By the end of the movie, after the rape of his wife, the killing of her pet cat and weeks being taunted by the locals, he fights back with a brutality that surpasses that of his antagonists. The last reel features a siege scene in which he keeps the blood-crazed locals out of his house.

    What's most disturbing about the movie is that, in some atavistic way, David enjoys his own transformation. As the lurid publicity campaign pointed out, "The Knock At The Door Meant The Birth Of A Man And The Death Of Seven Others." Many were also appalled by the ambivalent way that Peckinpah depicted rape. When Amy is sexually assaulted by her former boyfriend (Del Henney), the scene switches tone. As Henney later recalled, "Halfway into it, it turns into a sort of a love scene, a tender scene." The tenderness, though, is rapidly undercut when Amy is attacked brutally by a second man.

    Arguably, the context was what made Straw Dogs so shocking. If this had been a Western about a pioneer protecting his family or a Coriolanus-style classical drama, the violence might have seemed more understandable. The film wasn't set in lawless frontier land but in a contemporary and seemingly idyllic Cornish village.

    Peckinpah portrays superbly well the suspicion that the Cornish villagers feel for outsiders as well as their contempt for someone as feeble as they perceive Hoffman's American academic to be. The scenes in which he tries to ingratiate himself with the locals in the pub are full of menace and grim irony.

    The film that had been so blithely passed for the cinemas in 1971 had a difficult afterlife in the UK. In 1984, after the Video Recordings Act was passed, it was banned and dubbed a video nasty. Peckinpah's formal mastery and willingness to probe the dark side of human psychology are applauded by some, but Straw Dogs has never escaped its tainted reputation.

    By contrast, Lurie's remake has seemed remarkably untouched by its predecessor's notoriety. In the era of "torture porn," the violence no longer appears so remarkable. There haven't been any censorship rows.

    Lurie's version is an intelligent and cleverly crafted thriller but one which risks falling between stools. Arguably, it isn't extreme enough for genre fans. Nor does it provoke the same questions about voyeurism and violence that have been posed by art-house films such as the similarly themed Funny Games.

    Lurie has changed the locations from rural England to the Deep South. The main character (James Marsden) is a Hollywood screenwriter rather than an academic. He is working on a script about the Battle for Stalingrad. He plots a story about the Russians being drawn into a fight for survival against the Nazis, little realising that their experience will soon be mirrored by his own.

    Kate Bosworth plays the bride: a local girl who went to Hollywood and made a name as an actress. Instead of Peter Vaughan's Cornish patriarch, James Woods plays an alcoholic ex-football coach who is devoted to his teenage daughter and ready to lynch anyone who harms her. Lurie enjoys contrasting Marsden's pampered LA-type in his sports car with the locals, who judge a man by his ability to hunt, fight and play sports. The settings are different, but he cleaves closely to the storyline of the original.

    The rape sequence remains very uncomfortable to watch but pivotal to the plotting. (Bosworth reportedly called Susan George before shooting the scene.) While his wife is assaulted, Marsden is out hunting, trying to get in touch with his masculine side but cutting a ridiculous figure.

    A former film critic, Lurie is a skilled film-maker who knows his source material and is aware of every pitfall in front of him. What the new Straw Dogs lacks, for better or worse, is the psychopathic intensity Peckinpah brought to his material. Peckinpah was a subversive director who knew how to craft a movie. His films were more personal than they may have appeared. Thanks to Straw Dogs, he became one of the most notorious film directors in the world. The key question his work provokes is whether he used violence in a thoughtful way to tackle big themes of life, death and human nature... or whether he just delighted in blood. It still hasn't been satisfactorily answered, which is one reason why his work is still watched and debated so fiercely today.

  11. #51
    Senior Member Country: England cornershop15's Avatar
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    Introducing Maggie Mulgrew (Daily Express, 28th September 1970)

    What became of this girl? I can't find any other references to her. The role she was "short-listed" for
    was probably Janice (Sally Thomsett's character), while Judy Geeson replaced Susan George as Amy:



    That's pretty much how Lynne Frederick looked at the time.

  12. #52
    Senior Member Euryale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cornershop15 View Post
    while Judy Geeson replaced Susan George as Amy:
    But Susan wasn't replaced - she was in the film.


    E.

  13. #53
    Senior Member Country: England cornershop15's Avatar
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    Sorry, I kept changing the names round until I was satisfied with the sentence - and still made a right mess of it. Susan replaced Judy, of course.

    I'd be grateful if you can find out more about Maggie Mulgrew, Euryale (with your research and ancestry skills). Do you think she lost heart after failing a screen test and quit showbiz before she made a start, or did Maggie become famous under a different name?

  14. #54
    Senior Member Euryale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cornershop15 View Post
    Sorry, I kept changing the names round until I was satisfied with the sentence - and still made a right mess of it. Susan replaced Judy, of course.

    I'd be grateful if you can find out more about Maggie Mulgrew, Euryale (with your research and ancestry skills). Do you think she lost heart after failing a screen test and quit showbiz before she made a start, or did Maggie become famous under a different name?
    I honestly don't think that Maggie did pursue an acting career - can't find any actress of that name and there doesn't seem to be any evidence that she changed her name or had any reason to.

    What I am certain of is that she was born Margaret Mulgrew in Essex in the spring of 1951 - that tallies with the age and location of the school (Woodford) mentioned in the article. Her parents were John Mulgrew and Winifred Hodge. Both mom and dad were in the entertainment business.

    John/Johnny Mulgrew was born in 1922 (in Scotland, I think). He was a musician, played the double-bass, and before the War worked with the Ambrose Orchestra. While serving in the Forces during the War he became friends with two men - another musician, Bill Hall - and Spike Milligan. After the War they formed a musical/comedy act which they called The Bill Hall Trio. John is mentioned extensively in Spike Milligan biographies/autobiographies and in Harry Secombe's memoirs. Harry said that John looked like Buster Keaton. In the late 1940s, John lived in Notting Hill in the same block of bedsits as Harry, Spike, comedian Norman Vaughan and actor George Moon. John and his friends would work or hang out at the famous Windmill Theatre. The Stage newspaper mentions an artiste or dancer called Winifred Hodge appearing at the Windmill in the 1940s - I guess that is how she and John met.

    John did TV and film work in the 1960s - we can see that he appeared with another Goon - Michael Bentine:

    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0611799/

    John died of lung cancer in the summer of 1985. Just six months before in October 1984, John had advertised in The Stage looking for work, but obviously he was already very ill. The ads say that he'd had a laryngectomy but otherwise are quite lighthearted in tone - he refers to himself as a Buster Keaton look-alike. These ads give a contact phone no. and it is exactly the same as that of a John Mulgrew who was living in Woodford Green in the early 1970s. As already said, Woodford is mentioned in Maggie's newspaper article. Sometimes it little details like that connect to give the whole picture.

    I think Maggie got married in 1979 and civic records suggest that she has been living in Essex in recent years. Mom Winifred appears to be still alive and residing in Essex also.

    John from a Pathe newsreel in which he appears with Spike:



    John on our right with actresses Janette Scott and Shirley Eaton:



    http://beaufortjazz.wordpress.com/tag/bob-clarke/


    E.

  15. #55
    Senior Member Country: England cornershop15's Avatar
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    Thank you again for your extraordinary research, Euryale. Although I'm disappointed Maggie Mulgrew doesn't appear to have had any further connection with showbusiness, father John's IMDb credits indicate that he was a bit part actor who obviously did more film and TV work than his credits suggest. Those pictures will hopefully prove useful whenever I look at Movie Dude's galleries of Unnamed Extras.

    Susan George and Dustin Hoffman during filming. The LQ picture is from the Daily Mirror, 8th February 1971:




  16. #56
    Senior Member Country: United States will.15's Avatar
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    Shirley Eaton smiling in that picture looks like Mariel Hemmingway.
    Last edited by will.15; 03-06-14 at 11:40 PM.

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