Aug 2, 2023

You Play A Mean Banjo

Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
Every movie that I've ever watched at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater has been more impactful to me than it has been in any other environment that I've seen it before, but the contrast has never been as strong for me as it was for Deliverance.

I saw this movie for the first time on VHS in the late 90's and I thought I understood what this film had to say back then, but I've got a whole new appreciation for it now.  I'm sure that a big part of the difference is that I'm seeing it this week through older eyes, but the atmosphere on the lot also plays a big role.  When you watch Deliverance on a giant cinemascope screen under the stars on a cloudless and chilly summer night, surrounded by trees with the sounds of nature filling the air around you... let's just say that the movie hits you differently than it does on a tv set in your bedroom.

Just before the start of the trailer reel, our friend Gene and his friend AJ performed Dueling Banjos for Mahoning Radio in the projection booth.  The "Manhonings" did a hell of a job!

Deliverance is a film that is both over-simplified and under-appreciated in pop culture.  If you ask anybody about it, they're likely to reference either the Dueling Banjo scene or the "squeal like a pig" sexual assault scene, but this movie is so much more than the "redneck horror" label that it gets stuck with.  This is a film about bigotry and dominance.

I spent over an hour trying to write a few paragraphs to discuss the characters and their prejudices and attitudes toward each other, and how those attitudes led to violence and death, but I can't find the words to correctly express what I've taken away from this movie, so I just went ahead and deleted it.  For as long as I can remember, I've had people in my life tell me that I'm a good writer.  I believed them when I was a kid, but it just makes me feel like a phony when I hear it today because I know that I'm not.  That feeling is never more true than when I try to write a movie review.

If you haven't seen this movie before, I strongly recommend that you watch it alone, with all the lights off, and with no distractions.  Try to put all of the references that you've heard about this movie out of your mind and let the story wash over you because there is a powerful story being told here and you deserve to experience it for yourself.