Directed by Sam Peckinpah
Produced by Daniel Melnick
Music by Jerry Fielding
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Susan George, Peter Vaughan, Ken Hutchison & Del Henney

1971/117 mins/Color/Mono
1.78:1 anamorphic/English/US/NTSC Region 1

Reviewed from the Criterion Collection DVD

Finally passed and allowed by be seen uncut in Great Britain in 2002, Sam Peckinpah's most controversial movie has been given the Criterion deluxe 2-disc treatment that it truly deserves. Most people here have seen this remarkable film and know what it's about but for those who haven't, here's a bried synopsis:

A young American mathematician, David Sumner (Dustin Hoffman), and his English wife, Amy (susan George), move to a Cornish village seeking the quiet life while David works on his book. But beneath the seemingly peaceful isolation of the pastoral village lies a savagery and violence that threaten to destroy the couple, culminating in a brutal test of Sumner's manhood and a bloody battle to the death. This is a harrowing investigation of masculinity and the nature of violence.

Surely, we could debate for days on the various nuances and interpretations of what transpires in this film so instead I'll stick with the DVD details.

Disk one contains the movie, uncut (as is the AB release); presented in its OAR of 1.78:1 and enhanced for 16 x 9 screens; an audio commentary by film scholar Stephen Prince; and an isolated music and effects track.

Disc two has Sam Peckinpah: Man Of Iron, a documentary of reflections by members of Peckinpah's family, friends, and collaborators (82 min.); On Location: Dustin Hoffman (26 min.); Behind The Scenes footage; Video Interviews with Susan George and producer Daniel Melnick (35 min.); Peckinpah Responds: select correspondence to critics and reviewers; Theatrical trailers and t.v spots.

Also included is a very informative 18 page insert booklet containing an essay on the film by Joshua Clover along with a reprinted interview with Sam Peckinpah from 1974.

The transfer to DVD is a hi-def digital transfer and this is absolutely the best this movie has ever looked. The folks at Criterion put a lot of work, money, and love into this and we're all the richer for it. The colors are deep and rich throughout with perfect flesh tones and the night scenes and shadows couldn't be better. There were no nicks, scratches, or blemishes to be found here. This release is so much better than even the theatrical release which was more washed out in appearance. This DVD is Nirvana. The original mono soundtrack is perfect with no dropouts, squeals or harshness. The audio wouldn't have benefitted from from an upgrade to DD 5.1 or even 2.0 stereo so those desiring a more robust audio, don't despair. This one will surely satisfy.

The supplements are excellent and I can recommend watching all of them which will give even greater insight to the movie itself. But, the best of all is the Man Of Iron documentary giving us Sam Peckinpah's biography and unflinchingly shows people who he was and what made him tick. A must view and worth the price of the DVD alone.

STRAW DOGS, Peckinpah's first non-western themed film, has long been one of my favorite movies and remains so to this day. This is a character study so intense and well done which is rarely seen in film these days. It's also a study of the nature of violence and its consequences and has one of the most disturbing rape scenes ever filmed.

With great acting and directing, STRAW DOGS is a disturbing movie filled with tension from almost the opening scene. Controversial and brutal in nature, it will surely cause viewers to think of their own values and ideals. Criterion has presented a 2-disc release worthy of this great film and some superb supplements to accompany it. Very highly recommended.





This Film Features:

Review by Brad Vautrinot. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©