[spam score 3.00/10.0 -pobox] RARA-AVIS: Pelecanos on CBS/straw dogs

From: George Pelecanos ( shoedog1@erols.com)
Date: 20 Jan 2002

Re: the spot on CBS Sunday Morning. It was bumped in the eleventh hour. I assume it will air in the next few weeks. They shot this about a year ago, and I have not seen it (it's their policy, understandably, to not screen these for authors before they are broadcast), so I can't say whether this is a worthwhile way to spend your Sunday morning or not. Wish I could be more helpful.

STRAW DOGS (to stay within the guidelines here) is based on the novel THE SIEGE OF TRENCHER'S FARM, by Gordon M. Williams. It's crosses, quite effectively, the western, horror, and hardboiled/noir genres. Peckinpah explores the nature of masculinity and the physical expression of that masculinity in an increasingly intellectual, deskbound world (much as Boorman did in POINT BLANK). Yes, there is a rape scene that is shot in a way that turns the audience on, and yes, Susan George (who plays the wife of uber-pussy Dustin Hoffman) gets off on the rape. Interestingly, Hoffman does not ultimately go after the thugs because they raped his wife; instead, he goes apeshit on them when they break into his house to get the village idiot (David Warner, who would next show up in Peckinpah's CROSS OF IRON) who has accidentally murdered the town slut (a la Lenny from OF MICE AND MEN.) The film is deliberately paced and never boring. The last fifteen minutes will blow your mind. Paulene Kael hated this almost as much as she did DIRTY HARRY, accusing both Peckinpah and Don Siegel of being "fascists." They were, in fact, personal filmmakers with a point of view who were unafraid to present complex protagonists and explore unpopular issues. When I saw this film at D.C.'s Cinema theater (Wisconsin Avenue) in 1972, the packed house was alternately fired-up and stunned. When's the last time you've experienced that? Twenty years of progress and we get TITANIC and PEARL HARBOR.

George Pelecanos

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