Straw Dogs is a 1972 film directed by Sam Peckinpah and was produced by Daniel Melnick. Sam Peckinpah co-wrote the screenplay with David Zelag Goodman and is based on Gordon M. Williams’s 1969 novel, The Siege of Trencher’s Farm. Straw Dogs stars Dustin Hoffman, Susan George, Peter Vaughan, T.P. McKenna, Del Henney, Jim Norton, Donald Webster, Ken Hutchison, Len Jones and Sally Thomsett.
The storyline follows American mathematician David Sumner comes to live in Britain with his glamorous young wife, Amy. They move to her small home village in a remote part of Cornwall. They are taken advantage of by the locals who have been hired to complete some construction. When David finally takes a stand it escalates quickly into a bloody battle as the locals assault his house.
Principle photography was completed on location in St Buryan, Cornwall. Before Dustin Hoffman was cast in the role of David Sumner, Beau Bridges, Stacy Keach, Sidney Poitier, Jack Nicholson, and Donald Sutherland had been considered. Similarly, before Susan George, an unknown actress at that time was selected for the role of Amy, Judy Geeson, Jacqueline Bisset, Diana Rigg, Helen Mirren, Carol White, Charlotte Rampling, and Hayley Mills had been considered. Dustin Hoffman had disagreed with the casting of Amy as he felt his character would never marry such a “Lolita-ish” kind of girl.
When Straw Dogs was released it received mixed reviews from the critics and was not without controversy. The controversy surrounded the prolonged rape scene that is the film’s centrepiece, where critics accused Sam Peckinpah of glamorising, eroticising rape and of engaging in misogynistic sadism, and male chauvinism, especially disturbed by the scene’s intended ambiguity — after initially resisting, Amy appears to enjoy parts of the first rape, kissing and holding her attacker, although she later has traumatic flashbacks.
On Rotten Tomatoes it currently holds a rating of 91% with the general consensus being, “A violent, provocative meditation on manhood with some of the most controversial scenes ever shot for a mainstream movie.”. Roger Ebert gave Straw Dogs two out of four stars and described the film as “a major disappointment in which Peckinpah’s theories about violence seem to have regressed to a sort of 19th-Century mixture of Kipling and machismo.”
Commercially, Straw Dogs was a box office success. I am unable to find the financial details for Straw Dogs opening weekend receipts. Produced on an estimated production budget of $3.2m, it went onto achieved total worldwide box office receipts of $11,148,828.
Year of Film
Dustin Hoffman, Susan George, Peter Vaughan, T.P. McKenna, Del Henney, Jim Norton, Donald Webster, Ken Hutchison, Len Jones, Sally Thomsett
Origin of Film
UK | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Crime | Drama | Thriller
Budget: $3,200,000 (Estimated)
Opening Weekend: Unknown
Gross: $11,148,828 (Worldwide)
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