Gala On this episode of the Video Archives podcast:
Sometimes a man is forced to defend his honor. Quentin and Roger defend theirs in Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 Straw Dogs. Based on the novel The Siege of Trencher’s Farm, we take a look at our very first Magnetic Home Video box. We start out with an examination of IB Technicolor, Peckinpah’s directorial intentions, and where this sits in his filmography.
Then we’re on to discussing the film itself, everything from Dustin Hoffman and Susan George’s performances to the ugly nature of this movie. We debate if this film fits in with the revenge or manic genre, and most importantly, answer a few questions, including: Who killed the cat? All of this and more on today’s episode of Video Archives Podcast. I’m Gala Avary and joining us now here’s Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary.
Quentin Thank you, Gala!
Roger Thanks, Gala.
Quentin Kill the Bacalov. Actually, before we get started, believe it—Don’t worry, guys, we’re not going to get into a bunch of, “Oh, how was your weekend? I was weekend… did you get Covid? No, I didn’t get Covid.” We’re not going to do that shit. But usually when we do an episode and we leave, Gala usually says some shit that stays in my head, and I wish I had confronted her at the time.
Quentin And then, like, you know, six days later, I’m still thinking about it. And so, it’s still in my mind now. So I wanna—dealing with old business from last week’s episode about Little Darlings (1980).
Gala Oh, okay.
Quentin Just one thing. I thought it was a little bit of a cheap shot, alright, after me and Roger had talked about Little Darlings, like, “Oh, okay. Well, now that the 50-year-old men have talked about it, let the young lady in her twenties talk about it.” The only reason I think it’s a cheap shot is because that movie was made for US when it came out! We were the exact age of the characters in the movie; it wasn’t made for you, it was made for us. [laughs]
Gala You know, I’ll agree with that in part because it was made for you, because I wasn’t born yet.
Gala But I feel like there were girls, probably, in the eighties that were going to go see that movie and that connected with it on the level that I did.
Quentin Oh, I didn’t—I’m not disagreeing with that. It was just a cheap shot since —
Gala I’m sorry, Quentin!
Quentin Since I’m the exact same age as Tatum O’Neal. [laughs]
Gala I’m sorry, Quentin, if you felt like it was a cheap shot. But I will—I’m just going to say I think a lot of people would write off, maybe not everyone listening, but people might write off your guys’ opinions because —
Quentin I know! And they’re assholes, alright. I agree. Yes, I agree. There’s a whole lot of people who do that, and I think they’re assholes, however…
Gala And I don’t think they should write off your opinions.
Quentin I didn’t say you did.
Gala I just wanted to let you know because I—listening to you guys talk about it was important because me, I didn’t know that like, this was a movie that guys went to go see, like teenage boys. I understand now after, like, you guys talking about like the draw of Tatum O’Neal and Kristy McNichol. But I didn’t understand that one, I just, like, cold walked in; I was thinking, this is like a movie for girls.
Quentin Well, I’m sure that was where they were coming from, you know, when they made it but… I would guess 60% of everybody in my fuckin junior high saw it.
Roger I absolutely think so. But I think there’s another point to be made here, and that’s that as we are literally different people, as we travel through our lives, like roughly every seven years, you’re literally a different person at the cellular level.
Quentin Okay. We’re now, we’re turning back to—we now return you to the Moonraker Podcast that’s already in progress.
Roger But it’s true that you can watch a movie as a young person and have one kind of experience with that film and see one thing and have it speak to you at a certain age.
Quentin Oh, no, no, no.
Roger And then when you’re 50 —
Roger Be able to watch the movie and have a completely unique and different experience from that original experience. And you can hate a movie and then come to love a movie and vice versa.
Gala Well, I’m sorry, Quentin.
Quentin It’s not a sorry.
Gala I know. But no—no, actually, you know what it is because I don’t want to be one of those assholes that discounts your guy’s opinions just because you guys are two fifty-year-old’s.
Roger Based on age, you don’t want to be ageist.
Quentin You were just being—you were just being comically snarky.
Gala I was being rude.
Roger You were being ageist.
Gala Not even comically, I was just being snarky.
Quentin Okay. [laughs]
Tonight, we have one of our very special episodes where we don’t go through three movies. We have a very hot potato movie that there is so much to talk about. And that movie is Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs from 1971, starring Dustin Hoffman and Susan George.
Straw Dog Trailer (Clip of audience reactions) ABC Pictures presents: Dustin Hoffman in Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs. The most far out film I’ve seen this year. An experience. I thought it was a fantastic movie. Very violent. You had to have it in there. I was shocked. It was frightening. I felt hatred because the last part really got to me. Really exhausting, really draining. Horror—it was an excellent movie. That made me feel sort of sad. Oh, I just dig violence in movies. Frightening. It’s the kind of film that builds until you practically double over in your seat. Totally devastating. Dustin Hoffman has outdone himself. He really outdid himself. The culmination of all the other roles he’s played. I couldn’t believe that Hoffman could ever play a role like that. He just, like, totally stepped out of his element. Sam Peckinpah, who uncaged The Wild Bunch, now unleashes Dustin Hoffman in Straw Dogs. Rated R. Under 17 not admitted without parent.
Gala Straw Dogs is playing a three-night run at the New Beverly Cinema. Get your tickets to see a Sam Peckinpah masterpiece in IB Technicolor on Friday, February 17th, Saturday, the 18th or Sunday the 19th: 7165 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, California, 90036. For more information visit thenewbev.com. The New Beverly Cinema. Always on film.
Roger The box is beautiful. It’s a Magnetic Video box, it’s white. It’s got that fantastic poster, the Straw Dogs poster, with his broken glasses in black and white on the front, a bunch of stills on the back. And in the description right off the bat in parentheses—and I’m wondering if this is because of the poster itself, the poster design being black and white—it says color. [laughs]
Quentin Yeah. Alright. Yeah, I think you’re right. [laughs]
Roger Like, they want you to know, “Hey, man, this videos in color,” and that’s in parentheses, right off the bat, at the top of the sentence. Color.
David, a quiet young American, moves with his English wife to a seemingly peaceful town in Cornwall. The villagers, disdaining David’s reticence, begin a subtle harassment, growing steadily more violent as David continues to avoid confrontation. Ultimately, David is forced into commitment.
Quentin Dot, dot, dot.
Roger Dot, dot, dot. Ellipsis. And then there’s a quote at the bottom. You want to read the quote?
Quentin Yeah. It’s from Newsweek. “It’s hard to imagine Sam Peckinpah will ever make a better movie. It flawlessly expresses his belief that manhood requires rites of violence.”
Roger Released date: 1971.
Quentin And our tape was one of the early tapes at Video Archives, and it is tape number 854. And it could be found under the S’s in drama. And before we even get into the movie, I’ve been waiting so long for us to have a movie by Magnetic Home Video.
Roger Yeah. They are a famous company.
Quentin Magnetic Home Video was one of the very first commercial video companies—Allied Artists was another one.
Roger They almost created the business.
Quentin Well, they did. They did. And actually—and they really ended up fucking over, ultimately, 20th Century Fox because before there was ever even a thing of selling films on home video, when it was not even a blink in an eye, but it still kind of existed—Magnetic Home Video went to Fox and said like, “Hey, can we license some of your movies to release on video?” Well, no one had ever really heard of that. Why the hell not? So a lot of the first Magnetic Home Videos—it all had a special box, this is not the kind of normal… this is once, like, videos kind of started becoming a little bit more commonplace. Now, they put the poster —
Quentin On the box but all the other Magnetic Home Videos all had this one kind of little look and design inside of that. But they’re all Fox movies, so it’s like Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), Patton (1970), The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974).
Roger And there was literally no home video market. It just—there wasn’t one.
Quentin And, you know, and so truthfully, through Magnetic Home Video, all these Fox movies started coming out. Then people realized that there was this video thing going on; the studios realized that, so they all started their own video lines. Paramount Home Video. Warner’s Home Video. Fox couldn’t because they had to deal with Magnetic Home Video.
Roger Yeah, their entire catalog was tied up.
Roger So that’s when the boom hit, the big video boom…
Quentin So it too them so long to get into the business and that’s one of the reasons why when Fox did open up their line, they made a deal with CBS.
Quentin That’s why it’s CBS Fox. Every Magnetic Video always started the same way. With this like “Dada dede dedana… Through special arrangement with Cinerama releasing, Magnetic Home Video is proud to offer you this exciting entertainment on home videocassette dada dede deda…” [laughs]
Roger And they had that fabulous kind of Kiron effect—3D Kiron effect.
Quentin And so, it was just, like, it was just music to our ears.
Roger Like, “Magnetic video, magnetic video, magnetic video…”
Quentin It was just music to our ears to put it on and listen to it. But the other thing that’s so great about this particular tape: there is all kinds of releasing companies that were like Miramax or we’re like New Line along the way, alright. Cinerama Releasing was one, National General Pictures was one.
Roger Yeah, little companies cranking out movie—catalogs of films.
Quentin Yeah, City Cinema, alright, was CBS film distribution line. But what happens—what’s happened, especially in the last 15, 20 years—is these companies go out of business and then one of the studios usually ends up buying the library and absorbing it.
Roger Consolidation. Consolidation.
Quentin Orion, you know, Orion for a while bought the AIP (American International Pictures) library and then whoever bought Orion got the AIP library. But what will happen is, okay—so if it’s Warner Brothers, say, who bought Orion and so that now they also get, that’s not the right lineage, but now they also get the AIP films. When you get it on DVD or you get it on Blu-ray, it’s Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers Presents. And they’ll even go out of their way to slice off the studio logo that starts at the front of it. They won’t go into the movie and where it says American International Presents but that shot of the blue sky —
Quentin That you see for AIP and then like the little A…
Roger They’ll cut that out.
Quentin Yeah, they’ll cut that out and put a Warner Brother logo on there.
Roger I’ve known lots of producers who insist on having the score of the movie lap the presentation credits that they’re crediting —
Roger Foreign distribution producers that do that so that you can’t cut out their logo.
Quentin So I can guarantee you on the criterion Straw Dogs: you’re not going to see the ABC Pictures International logo, which is —
Roger A beautiful frickin logo.
Quentin Which has the black ABC ball with ABC and then the ball turns into the earth spinning around.
Roger Yeah, and then kind of rolls off to the side into like a strip of film or something—it’s unspooling out of the Earth.
Quentin It’s. So. Fucking. Cool.
Roger Yeah, it’s really cool.
Quentin It’s so fucking cool. And just forget about if you saw it in the theaters, it would actually have started off with the Cinerama logo.
Quentin Which was really cool. And then go into the ABC logo.
Roger Well, it was super cool too, because these are all done on an optical printer. They’re not, you know, done with any kind of computer graphics and so at least that logo—it has all that kind of Xanadu (1980) kind of feeling to it.
Quentin No, I actually think that world was a model.
Roger Oh, yeah, no.
Quentin The Earth was the model.
Roger No, the Earth is a model. That’s what I’m saying, it’s not—
Quentin It’s not computer graphics.
Roger It’s not computer graphics, it’s all practical. [laughs]
Quentin I love that logo, man.
Roger It’s art and an artist making it.
Quentin One of the things that I read online about our show that I—this is my favorite comment, it’s a dig at me, but I liked it a lot; I thought I was very funny. It’s like, okay, “As if the Quentin Tarantino everything must be 35MM film wasn’t obnoxious enough. Now the Quentin Tarantino everything must be VHS is even worse.”
Roger Yeah. Yeah, it’s a contradiction. Yeah. “You’re confusing us!” [laughs]
Quentin I think it’s just—it’s insufferable either way, alright, but this is even more insufferable.
Quentin Alright. Or even less defensible, I think, is from where they’re coming from. But this tape of Straw Dogs is a perfect example of why this is such a wonderful format for this film. And I’ve watched within the last two years—well, no, but three years ago—I watched The Criterion Blu-Ray of it, and it’s really nice. What’s special about this Straw Dogs transfer is you can tell it’s obviously taken from a print, and we like that —
Roger We love it. We can see the—a little bit of the dust, a little —
Quentin But this, it’s obvious, it’s taken from an IB Technicolor print.
Quentin And that’s not the case on these other things. This is actually taken from an IB Technicolor print.
Roger Why don’t you tell the audience what IB Technicolor is, Quentin.
Quentin What IB Technicolor is, it’s a process that literally does not exist anymore. And for reasons I’ve never understand, can’t be brought back. And I don’t understand that. I’ve tried, Roland Emmerich tried—it’s just we can’t do it. So what an IB Technicolor print is, it’s shot on Technicolor film, but the print itself is made with these extremely, extremely vivid, colorful dyes in it. And these dyes do not fade. Unlike Eastman Color, Eastman color will fade, and then you get red prints or things start turning, or they start fading, or they just go red. I think Technicolor prints, they can shrink, they can warp, they can do all that, but they don’t fade. Those colors are there to last. They’re there to stay. The last movie to be shot releasing IB Technicolor prints, I do believe, was Godfather Part II (1974). You know, so into the seventies, they were still doing it.
Roger Yeah, and in fact, Technicolor took on a very brown look throughout the seventies, you could see movies like Being There (1979), and Harold and Maude (1971), I believe, were also shot in that.
Quentin I don’t think—Being There is after —
Roger Well, maybe it was just Harold and Maude, then.
Quentin Harold and Maude makes sense.
Roger Because it has that kind of chocolatey feeling, which a lot of —
Quentin Which, by the way, is perfect for Straw Dogs, which takes place in Cornwall.
Roger Now, my understanding of Technicolor, and correct me if I’m wrong… it’s three strips of film. One is shooting red, one is shooting green, and one is shooting blue. So you have an RGB palette.
Roger They’re all shooting black and white film.
Quentin Yeah, that’s the film that’s being recorded in the camera.
Roger That’s being recorded. And then they have this technology which basically takes all of those, and then the registration of getting all three of those to align perfectly, because understand you’re shooting three separate images and then converging them together and the reason it doesn’t fade is because you’re shooting black and white film.
Roger And one is only shooting the red, one is only shooting the blue, and one is only shooting the green. And then you have to register them together perfectly so that there’s no…
Roger Phasing, you know, between them. They have to be perfectly aligned. And what this comes down to is machining and tooling, which is no longer done in Hollywood.
Quentin And the IB aspect of it is actually just the printing of the print and that—it’s just, they just use these great dyes that just do not fade. What got replaced when IB Technicolor left is a new thing that was not as perfect as IB Technicolor, but LLP.
Quentin And so, you get a print in LLP, then it’s lot less likely that it will fade.
Quentin Even though it could still fade.
Quentin The most colorful one I have is one of the most colorful movies ever made, as I have an IB Technicolor 35mm print of The Yellow Submarine (1968).
Roger Oh, wow! Well, that’s a movie that would benefit.
Quentin It’s fucking amazing! It’s like—it’s a trip unto it. That movie already is a trip unto itself, but that is truly a trip unto itself.
Now, getting into straw dogs. So let me just—I’ll start, I’ll start it off. Sam Peckinpah is, as you might imagine, is one of my favorite directors; he’s one of my favorite personalities. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, as much as I love Sam Peckinpah, I really only love four movies. I think the two masterpieces he made are The Wild Bunch (1969) and Straw Dogs, and the other two movies that I really, really love, even though I wouldn’t call them masterpieces, but I really love, are the next two which is Junior Bonner (1972) and The Getaway (1972). And after that, I really, really, really, really like Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973), but to me it’s like a series of set pieces and some set pieces you like more than others. However, the set pieces that I like, like the capturing of Billy by James Coburn as Pat Garrett, you know, as that Bob Dylan, “La la lalala la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la….” [laughs]
That scene and then the scene when Billy gets out of the jail and then takes over the town, those scenes are as good as any scenes he’s ever done, and they’re just absolutely fantastic. But…. all the other ones I don’t really care for that much. I’m not really a big fan of Ride the High Country (1962). I think Cross of Iron (1977) is overrated.
Quentin I’m not really just—I’m not really that big of a fan of them. They’re okay. Alright. But you know, it’s all about those four. But those four I love so much that he still is one of my favorite directors. But to me, this is one of his masterpieces. Now, I had just seen it about three years earlier when I watched the Criterion version, I had a screening of it with a bunch of—my wife and a bunch of our friends and we watched it. And it was fantastic watching it with a whole audience of people who had never seen it before, and they were all really caught up in it and it was very, very exciting.
But what was really nice watching the movie now, especially in like a direct comparison to The Wild Bunch, is how truly challenging this movie is. And what I mean by that is… Something that annoys me about directors who do violent movies is oftentimes when they’re called to task on it in an interview and they’re put on the hot seat about why they did some of the things that they did, it’s been forever that directors would like, “Well, you know, I wanted to be hard. I wanted to be grueling. No, no, it’s not meant to be fun. I don’t even understand anyone would think that this is entertainment. It’s not entertainment. You know, this is just supposed to be horrifying. And I’m going to show you the horrifying-ness of it.” And then they’ll come up with all these other excuses for it. And Scorsese did that with Taxi Driver (1976) at the time of its release. Peckinpah has said things like that. All the directors said things like that, you know. I think that’s a bogus argument when it comes to The Wild Bunch, which is absolutely generally cathartic at the very end.
Nothing about Straw Dogs is necessarily enjoyable. It is a rough movie. It is rather horrific. The final retribution at the end isn’t, “Oh, wow, this is cool.” You know, “Dustin Hoffman is fighting against him!” No, it’s just ugly and it’s just grueling. And it’s just really, really rough.
Roger To be honest, Quentin, I was really profoundly disturbed by his emotional violence against her constantly. Like that was hard to get through. And it’s persistent.
Quentin So in the movie, Dustin Hoffman plays a guy named David who’s obviously a New York intellectual, almost pointedly a Jewish New York intellectual, who’s a mathematician who gets hired to write some sort of a mathematic textbook or something.
Quentin And he’s given money to go away, to go and write this. And so, he’s just married this beautiful young English lass, Susan George, playing a character named Amy. And so, through situations that we never are privy to, they decide to go to her hometown in Cornwall, England, to get a little cottage out by, you know, out on the hills. And for him to, you know, lock himself away and work on his figures and write this textbook. And then she’s kind of back home where she grew up.
Roger Yeah, he wants the quiet so he can work, and this is where she grew up.
Quentin They could go anywhere, but they decided to go to her hometown. And she’s a really hot pants looking little sexpot, alright, when she —
Roger Yeah, no bra, it’s 1969.
Quentin But that’s when people were wearing—Yeah, that’s what that… But not necessarily all the other women in the town, alright. You know, but you know, she’s coming from a modern place.
Roger For sure not. Yeah, she’s coming from even more than London, she’s been in America with him.
Roger I’m going to pull from the book.
Quentin Mm hmm.
Roger “In the same year that man first flew to the moon”—and this is 1969, the movie was made in 1971, so this is 1969—”and the last American soldier left Vietnam, there were still corners of England where lived men and women who had never traveled more than 15 miles from their own homes. They had spent all their lives on the same land that had supported their fathers and grandfathers and great grandfathers and unknown generations before that. ‘Dando marries its own,’ was a local saying. In neighboring towns this was often accompanied by knowing looks and shaking heads. Dando, they said, had married its own for too many years.” So it’s a little bit like deliverance there.
Quentin Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Roger And which is the implication of David Warner’s character, who’s this kind of local guy.
“The few outsiders who did buy land within the boundaries of the two parishes might spend a lifetime without hearing these secrets. For some things could not be told to strangers and a stranger could be any man whose father had not been born in the parish. The outsider might hear hinted references to things he did not understand. He might ask, for instance, why a certain pasture behind the woods which stood above the village Dando of Monachorum was called Soldier’s Field. He would be told that ancient history—that a soldier was once murdered there. He would not be told that there was one man still in the village who had been in the field the night the soldier’s head was hacked from his body by a hedge-cutter’s billhook. He would not be told that there were men and women who could still remember their fathers being out that night. And when the soldier came from the barracks at Plymouth and met 12-year-old Mary Tremaine on the road at the Four Ways Cross, and how the men came from the farmhouses in cottages, and the Dando Inn, when the soldier a deserter, a man of some strength who had crossed the moor on foot, was caught. Only the men who were there could tell what was in their minds as they slew the soldier. Each man taking his turn with the billhook so that all would have taken part. The men of Dando, as the area of the two parishes was usually known, had been apart for a thousand years and more. And when the outside world threatened them and their land, they knew the best strength of their own apartness. A family had to guard its own secrets.”
So Peckinpah changes it from where this takes place. And maybe there are Cornish people there in Dando, where the book takes place, but Peckinpah consciously makes these Cornish people. Now, the Cornish people are an ethnic minority.
Quentin Mm hmm.
Roger They have their own language. They have their own culture. They are completely a separate people.
Quentin No, it can be like the Welsh people or, you know, Celtic.
Roger Sure. And it was the Cornish Americans who built all the great bridges and highways and did all the great work on skyscrapers and everything. They were the ones who did all of the super hard labor that no one else would do.
Quentin And so, there’s these—there’s this guy who’s sort of like the ringleader of, you know, the local pub hanging out rabble, alright, that live in this town. And they all grew up with her.
Roger Mm hmm.
Quentin So the lead guy sees she’s back in town and like, you know, “Oh, hi. How are you doing? You even remember me? Of course, I remember you.” You know, and then when the husband’s away, goes, “Yeah, you know, there was a time that, you know. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That times over. That times over, pal.” You know?
Roger Yeah. Like we used to date.
Quentin Yeah. Yeah.
Roger Seven years ago or so?
Quentin Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, whatever, you know. But the thing is, they’re the local guys in town and they’re the, you know, they’re the bricklayers. They’re the people that build houses, that build garages, that build walls; they go and dig wells. These are the lads that do that.
Quentin And so, they need all that stuff done to their house. There’s a garage that need to be built up. And there’s a rat problem—they got a rat guy there; his job is catching rats. So these guys are on their property working. And then just little by little by little—and it’s one of the greatest things about the movie is… as opposed to every Revengeamatic I’ve ever seen before, and almost every Revengeamatic that we’ve talked about—everything that happens is just a little by little by little, things are pushed a little too far, a little too further than that, then a little too farther than that, until they spiral out of control.
Roger The rope just keeps tightening and tightening and tightening.
Quentin And the thing about it is, at first, Dustin Hoffman just seems like an odd duck, you know, to these Cornwall pint swillers. And he is a little intimidated by them to some degree. And they see that and then they start kind of mocking it a little bit. They think he’s a figure of fun and they think it’s funny that this hot pants girl marries this little milquetoast. And Susan George is watching all this happen. And, you know, she knows these guys. So she knows he doesn’t even quite realize that he’s appearing like a fool or he’s appearing like a dupe to them, but she does. She sees it. And, you know, and she’s getting contempt for him because he doesn’t see it. And so, she starts pushing him, you know, like something goes missing; something happens to their cat. And she goes like, “Go out there, confront them, talk to them about it. You can just say, hey, we’re looking for the damn cat. Have you seen him? Just see their reaction, you know, or just fucking confront them or throw them off the fucking property, you know, be a fucking man!”
Roger He’s wanting to hide inside of his equations and work on his little math thing. And he’s not confronting anybody.
Quentin And by the way, I think at this point in the movie, Amy is 100% right. I mean, if you can’t respect your man in your house to protect her and protect your house and your property, then how can you have any respect for him at all?
Roger It was an amazing pivoting point, too.
Quentin Yeah. Yeah.
Roger Because she starts off the movie being a little brash and, you know, kind of bothering him and annoying—she’s almost playing it like a little girl, like a nine-year-old or something bothering him while he’s trying to do his work.
Quentin Well —
Roger And it can be annoying. And then suddenly there comes a point where it pivots.
Quentin You know, you’re right. God, you’re right. I hadn’t talk about that.
Roger And that was the exact moment that you were at in the story.
Quentin Yeah, you’re right. Because there is this aspect that she’s acting like a petulant child.
Roger Yeah, and for sure that Peckinpah insisted on Susan George, and apparently Dustin Hoffman was sort of like, “No, she’s too young. It’s like going to be like Lolita,” you know?
Quentin Yeah, yeah.
Roger They had even talked about Hayley Mills.
Quentin Ah-huh, yeah.
Roger And at one point he’s like, “No, no, it’s too young.” And Peckinpah was like, “No, it is Susan George.”
Quentin It’s Susan George—and he couldn’t be more right. Susan George is so magnificent.
Roger ‘Cause he was absolutely going after that slightly…
Quentin As good as Dustin Hoffman is in this movie, he’s no Susan George.
Roger She’s a pugnacious child —
Quentin Yeah, exactly.
Roger In the first part of the movie.
Quentin In the first part of the film. But then he becomes the scared—he becomes the intimidated little boy and now she’s the woman who saying, “Hey, be a man!”
Roger “Yeah, stand up, stand up.”
Quentin “This is our house.”
Quentin “What’s going on here?”
Roger “You’re going to let them do that and look at me like that and behave like that?”
Quentin “Yeah, make snickering remarks when I walk by and talk about my ass as I walk by, you know, and talk about my tits.” Well, then put on a bra! “Oh, I got to put on a bra in my fucking house because of the fucking scumbags, alright, that are fixing our roof? What the fuck.”
Roger And after that argument, she goes upstairs, takes her top off to prepare for a bath with the window open so they can all see her.
Quentin Yes, well… she’s also playing a game, alright, because she is also —
Roger The game of my, you know, I want my husband to be a man.
Quentin But she also is provoking these guys.
Quentin She is being a coquettish chick who is provoking these guys at the same time. She’s playing a game with them, and she helps perpetuate this tension between the two of them. He precipitates it by being meek and she precipitates it by, you know, by being randy.
Roger Now, am I right in remembering that this was her father’s house that they had moved back to?
Roger And so, it’s actually, he’s kind of standing in as a replacement for her father in the first part of the movie.
Roger And she’s behaving like this little girl.
Roger In the first part of the movie while he’s literally in her father’s office, sitting in her father’s desk, surrounded by her father’s stuff in her father’s house… basically as the replacement to her dead father.
Quentin And it all leads to, I think, the greatest rape scene in the history of cinema because unlike other rape scenes, it’s a genuine scene. There’s so many different levels to it. Okay, they invite the husband to go and go hunting with them and he’s like, “Oh, okay, this is kind of great.” You know, they act like they’re being friendly with him, and he goes out hunting and whatever. And it’s just kind of—it was they’re just making a fool with him. The whole idea is make a fool out of him. While all of the rest of them are gone, the guy she knows shows up at the house and starts, you know, becoming threatening to her, starts coming on to her. And she’s like, “Whoa, what’s going on here? Get the fuck out. Na, na na na na. This is not going to happen.” Now, come on. There used to be a time you had begged me for it. You know, and —
Roger You think about how old she is in the movie and at that they basically dated about seven years she’s been away.
Quentin Yeah. Yeah,
Roger She was that young girl, Janice Hutton.
Quentin Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Roger Basically, at that time, she was the young—the too young —
Quentin Yeah, the too young, yeah.
Roger Too young to be touched girl that’s flirtatious with everybody in town.
Quentin No, if her and that guy had sex, they had sex when she was 15 or something, you know?
Roger Correct. Yeah or even younger.
Quentin He forces himself on her. She fights for a while but then Peckinpah does the thing that makes the scene great—but put him under the crosshairs of anybody want to take a shot at him—is the fact that at a certain point it becomes lovemaking. At a certain point, she’s enjoying the domination. At a certain point, she’s enjoying being taken against her will because the guy is sexy, she actually did know him, and she’s disgusted with her husband. So she’s being dominated in a sexual way, and she gives over to it.
Quentin And if that were just it, that would be it. It would be a rape that turned into actual a seduction and then an affair—an affair-ish episode. But what happens—and the guy who first came over was actually not part of this—one of the halfwit guys that’s in their group has had, obviously, has an obsession with the Susan George character and he shows up.
Roger Yeah, and I believe he’s the brother, right?
Quentin Yeah. Ah-huh.
Roger Of Janice, the young girl in town.
Quentin Yeah. That later becomes —
Roger Yeah, he’s like the creepy brother and the son of the local, I don’t know what, like a bricklaying —
Quentin That guy! The guy who’s a ringleader.
Roger The ringleader.
Quentin The ultimate ringleader of the troublemaker.
Roger The troublemaking, the father ringleader. Yeah, exactly.
Quentin And then he brings in a shotgun and he tells the guy, “You’re not going to stop me.” And then he rapes her. Now, she wasn’t asking for any of it but whatever she felt with the other guy, she doesn’t feel for this guy.
Quentin And now she’s actually raped by two guys.
Quentin What makes the scene challenging but also, I would say, what makes it art is the response Peckinpah is drawing from the audience. Because… it’s unmistakably a rape—we’re talking to you about the first guy—it’s unmistakably a rape for the first three quarters of it, but then it turns, it turns in the last quarter. And in the last quarter, it starts becoming sexy. And one of the things that’s really just great and challenging and provoking to an audience, which I believe an audience should be challenged and should be provoked, is how you feel about that.
Now, most audience members, even though they might feel that, will claim that they did not feel that and they’re fucking lying most of them.
Quentin Alright. And he’s done a wonderful job so you can understand her character. Nothing is obscure about why these people are doing what they’re doing. But, you know, like the whole thing that we talked about with Freebie and the Bean (1974). Yeah, maybe you do kind of enjoy it a little bit, but then you feel terrible for enjoying it, and then you deny that you did. It’s not like an erotic sex scene; it is the give and take, it’s the back and forth. It’s a battle —
Roger For sure.
Quentin That they have and we are with that battle every blow and as it changes, and as it turns to this and that, I mean, this is fascinating.
Roger I did a little poll of the reviews of the film at the time and just kind of pulled out some of the buzzwords that people were using: Eroticizing rape —
Quentin Mm hmm.
Roger Misogynistic sadism; male chauvinism; ambiguity; fascist celebration of violence. I mean, these were all, like, things that were being put into reviews. Roger Ebert gave the film two out of four stars, calling it, quote, a major disappointment.
Quentin Okay. In the Playboy interview in 1972 with Peckinpah, the guy who is doing the interview, William Murray, gives a breakdown of some of the reviews at the time. Okay, “the darker implications of Straw Dogs and the level of violence in the picture provoked contradictory cries from the critics. Writing in Atlantic, David Denby called it, ‘a hateful but very exciting movie.’ The New Yorker’s Pauline Kael went further, pronouncing it, ‘a fascist work of art.’ Variety reviles it as, ‘an orgy of unparalleled violence and nastiness.’ … ‘A bloodbath that defies detailed description.’ But Times reviewer Jay Cox hailed it as, ‘a brilliant feat of moviemaking.’ … ‘The film, perhaps, is more cynical than realistic. But if this is not the way things are, then it is a measure of Peckinpah’s skill that, in giving voice to his despair, he came to make this nightmare seem like his own.’”
Roger Yeah. And there it is. Well, and it is his own nightmare—it is his dream.
Quentin And then you add that with a Newsweek quote that I just read.
Quentin So now let me ask a question: Why do you think she doesn’t tell David when he comes home?
Roger About the rape?
Quentin Because she doesn’t tell him. So he never knows that this happened to his wife—throughout the whole picture—he never knows that this happened to his wife. So why do you think she didn’t tell?
Roger Like, this is a super tough scene.
Quentin Mm hmm.
Roger And as you said, the reason most people were critical of the movie was her sudden embracing.
Roger Okay, so to me, that made perfect sense. There came a point where, look, if she loved this guy once, or she was his girlfriend once —
Quentin It was his girlfriend. Yeah.
Roger She just goes there in that moment. That’s a defensive mechanism, almost.
Quentin Yeah, she goes there over that moment. Also, there is this, you know—there also is this moment of like, you know, she is now with a man she doesn’t respect, and I think it’s a situation of why she didn’t tell him is because, well, he’s just proven himself to be completely ineffectual. What the fuck is he going to do? Alright. And actually, if he’s ineffectual then, well, then now she has to leave him completely. You know?
But also… I think she also feels guilty. I think she also feels that because she did give in at a certain point, you know, it is that “Oh, well see what she was fucking asking for.”
Roger I mean —
Quentin Okay, now that is what the critics who didn’t like the movie claimed that Peckinpah was thinking but I think that that is what she’s thinking, alright. You know, and she also knows that she was waving her sexuality around these ruffians like a red flag to a bull.
Roger There’s a little bit of Faulkner’s Sanctuary in that she’s being super flirty with them and everything, but ultimately I feel like one of the reasons she doesn’t say anything to him—I mean, she’s been abused by Dustin Hoffman for the entire movie I feel.
Quentin Mm hmm.
Roger I feel he is emotionally raping her constantly throughout the film. He’s treating her like shit. He’s increasing it. You know, he’s ramping up his kind of abuse of her throughout the entire film the more he becomes insecure.
What’s funny is as we were watching this film, you know, and I was projecting myself into the movie, there’s only one character—me, Roger Avary, you know, an American—in this movie and Peckinpah is conscious of all of this. That, you know, the audience has, you know—of men—has one person to identify with in the film and that’s Dustin Hoffman, the mathematical nerd, a milquetoast who feels like a limp dick, non-man hiding from, you know, everything.
Quentin And by the way, Dustin Hoffman is fantastic in this movie. [laughs]
Roger He is fantastic. And his slight disdain for Susan George or [laughs]
Quentin I think you’re overstating that but okay.
Roger Well, I don’t—listen, I —
Quentin When she acts like a petulant child he treats her like a petulant child.
Roger He treats her like a petulant child. Yeah, I bet that was easy to do.
Quentin Yeah. Yeah.
Quentin That I agree with. Okay, that I agree with.
Roger Now that David and Amy of Straw Dogs are different than the George and Louise of —
Quentin The Siege of Trencher’s Farm.
Roger Siege of Trencher’s Farm.
Quentin Which is the name of the book.
Roger Which is the name of the book. And they have a little description here, a single paragraph: “George and Louise Magruder had been married for nine years.” Okay, so that already changes —
Roger Completely changes everything because Amy and David have just been married, it feels like.
Quentin Well, I got the impression that they’ve been married for like a year or something like that.
Roger “For most of that time they had lived near Philadelphia in the United States, where he was a senior member of the English department at the University of Philadelphia. They had met at the home of the Wiltshire’s—Morris Wiltshire, having married Louise’s sister, whom they had met at Cambridge. This sabbatical year had seemed an excellent opportunity to combine two ambitions: her desire to take him to England, to show him her country, and his need to find a quiet place where he could write the final draft of his definitive study on Breakspear, the late 18th century diarist.”
Okay, so he’s not a mathematician. He’s like an English studies guy. “Of course, Breakspear was now part of the common transatlantic heritage and most of the useful papers were safe and secure in America, but it had seemed appropriate that the final version should be written in England. He had been hoping, perhaps childishly, that some of the atmosphere might rub off on him. He felt he knew everything there was to know about Breakspear without understanding a single thing about the man.” Okay, that I found to be the most important sentence in almost in the entire book, because he’s basically writing about someone he doesn’t really viscerally understand. Like he will never really know the truth of that guy. He can only know him as an academic.
Quentin And that would probably strike me to some degree or another, like anybody ten years younger than me trying to write about Peckinpah.
Roger Yeah. Yeah, for sure.
Quentin They can talk about the surface, they can talk about the tropes, they can talk about the recurring subject, but they don’t fucking understand this man and they never will. They do not understand him.
Roger If he doesn’t have the tools to understand Breakspear—who is his primary interest of study—how the hell is he going to understand those guys, those Cornish dudes outside? [laughs]
Quentin Well said, well said.
Well, one of the things about the rape in the movie that I think is absolutely fascinating is… it’s not played as just horror, nor is it played as an incident that happens and then now must be dealt with as now an incident that affects the plot. Actually, one of the interesting things about it is that since she doesn’t tell David what happens between the boys in the movie and David—it’s still not affected by the rape per se; everything she does is affected by the rape but not the scenario where everything else is going. But the point being, though, it’s not just an incident and it’s not just an act of horror, it’s a dance; it’s a drama—it’s the drama, it’s the drama of the story. Like the narrative, the narrative is built into the rape. The drama of the film is built into the rape, and it plays out and it doesn’t have one single conclusion.
Roger To me, it was like a pot of boiling water that’s coming to a boil, and it is like the lid is hopping off of the pot—it’s bubbling on the inside and it’s getting hotter and hotter and pretty soon you’re boiling over. And that’s the moment it boils over.
Quentin Let me read a large section of the Playboy interview. Playboy interviewer William Murray: “But many critics thought Straw Dogs was a work of art, and most of your other movies have been well-reviewed. Perhaps it’s just that nobody is lukewarm about your work. They hate you or love you.”
Roger That’s great.
Quentin Peckinpah: “Either way, they almost always misunderstand me. To some, Straw Dogs was a work of integrity but not of major intelligence. To others it was a work of enormous subtlety and substantial intelligence but failed on moral grounds. Goddamn it, Straw Dogs is based on a book called The Siege of Trencher’s Farm. It’s a lousy book with one good action-adventure sequence in it—the siege itself.”
Roger Yes, he’s right—he’s right, by the way. Sorry.
Quentin “You get hired to take this bad book and make a picture out of it. You get handed a scriptwriter, David Goodman, and an actor, Dustin Hoffman, and you’re told to make a picture. You’re given a story to do, and you do it the best way you know how, that’s all. So what’s all this shit about integrity and the picture not being the work of major intelligence?”
[Murray] “Pauline Kael has called you a passionate and sensual artist in conflict with himself, and she wrote in her review of Straw Dogs that ‘it’s the film you’ve been working your way towards all along.’ But that’s not exactly a compliment: She’s horrified by your apparent endorsement of the violence in the film and she claims you enshrined the temporal imperative and are out to spread the Neanderthal word.” [laughs]
[Peckinpah] “More, more, I love it!”
Quentin [Murray] “She also calls it, quote, the first American film that is a fascist work of art, unquote.”
[Peckinpah] “Explain, please.”
Roger [laughs] He didn’t like that.
Quentin [Murray] “She says the movie acts out the old male fantasy that women respect only brutes and that there is no such thing as rape, that women are all just little beasts begging to be subjugated.”
[Peckinpah] “Amy, the girl played by Susan George in the picture, as a young, uninformed, bitchy, hot blooded little girl with a lot going for her, but who hasn’t grown up yet. That’s the part. It wasn’t an attempt to make a statement about women in general, for Christ’s sake.”
[Murray] “But what about the rape scene? Amy is clearly enjoying the experience, isn’t she? Are you saying, as Kael implies, that that’s what women are for—to be used and enjoyed?”
[Peckinpah] “Well, Pauline, I trust that’s part of it. But I’m not putting down all women in that scene. Amy is enjoying the experience, yes. At first. Doesn’t Kael know anything about sex” —
Quentin “Dominating and being dominated; the fantasy, too, of being taken by force is certainly one way people make love. There’s no end to the fantasies of lovemaking, and this is one of them. Sure, Amy’s enjoying it. At least with the first hombre who takes her. The second one is a bit more than she bargained for, but that’s one of the prices she pays for playing her little game. There’s always a price to pay, doctor.”
[Murray] “Kael compares you to Norman Mailer and says you’re both in the same machismo bag, but the difference is that Mailer worries about it. For you, she thinks it’s the be-all and end-all.”
[Peckinpah] “I like Kael; she’s a feisty little gal and I enjoyed drinking with her—which I’ve done on occasion—but here she’s cracking walnuts with her ass.”
Quentin “Look, what if they’d given me War and Peace to do instead of Trencher’s farm? I’m reasonably sure I would have made a different picture.”
Quentin [Murray] “But you picked the Siege of Trencher’s Farm, didn’t you?”
[Peckinpah] “I didn’t pick anything! I’ve never picked any of my films. Except one: The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970). That’s the only one I ever picked.”
[Murray] “Well, then, tell us how does it work? You’re offered a lot of different projects —”
[Peckinpah] “I’m out looking for a job. I’m a whore. I go where I’m kicked. But I’m a very good whore.”
Roger [laughing] Yeah, he’s a good whore! He is, I love this—it’s so true.
Quentin [Murray] “Whatever material you’re given to work on then you proceed to make it your own picture. There’s certainly no mistaking the Peckinpah touch.”
[Peckinpah] “The Peckinpah touch! Read the goddamn book. You’ll die gagging in your own vomit.”
Roger Well, I did. And I don’t know if it’s —
Quentin I don’t it’s—well, what you read it’s not that bad either, alright.
Roger That’s it. Just at the beginning of the book, it falls into a lot of observation. You know, look, he was tasked with something and as I understood the film he did just before this —
Quentin The Ballad of Cable Hogue.
Roger Yeah, was not a successful film.
Quentin Not, but that’s his favorite movie.
Roger Yeah, of course. It’s always that way. Listen, as someone who chose to direct a rape scene in a movie and thought it would be a good idea to put it at the beginning of the film, I understood the initial responses that people have to it—no one likes to see that. And the initial response is awful. And when you see a rape, especially when it’s shot in a tough way, like in my film at the beginning of the movie, nobody wants to engage beyond that. You know, if you’re sensitive and you’re not looking to have a challenging experience in a film, you might just check out right then and there.
Roger Listen, Dustin Hoffman is in very large letters above the title. Almost the same size as the title: Dustin Hoffman’s Straw Dogs. Susan George is in a box down below. And there’s a reason Susan George is in a box like she is so freaking amazing —
Quentin But this is the movie that made her a star. So she’s not in Dustin Hoffman’s level when Straw Dogs comes out. She is —
Roger Oh, I know.
Quentin An above the title actress after Straw Dogs.
Roger She is the heart of this.
Quentin Oh, she is!
Roger From the moment he does a close up of her approaching walking through the village —
Roger To the end of the movie, she is so —
Quentin She is so fucking magnificent in this movie. I can’t…
Roger And to think that after this she went to Spain to do Sonny and Jed (1972).
Quentin Sonny and Jed, yeah. Literally the trajectory is she does Straw Dogs—probably gets on a plane right afterwards—goes to Spain to do Sonny and Jed. One year later, she does Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, and the very next year she’s in Mandingo (1975).
Roger And this is, you know —
Quentin And in between there, she almost replaced Maria Schneider in The Passenger (1975).
Roger Oh, really?
Quentin Yeah. [laughs]
Roger But, you know, what I was getting at is here we have Dustin Hoffman and all of his method, and all of his, you know, power as an actor and she comes in, and she is—not just holding her own, she’s stunning throughout the film. I think she’s just amazing to watch.
Quentin You can’t take your eyes off her. You just can’t take your eye—she’s such an exciting presence.
Roger And especially when —
Quentin A vivid presence. She’s such a vivid presence; she’s so alive.
Roger Especially when the reversal occurs.
Roger And suddenly she is like the, you know, the one we’re rooting for.
Quentin But then also Peckinpah, you know, it’s like she’s a very complicated character: She’s wrong, she’s right; it’s her fault, she’s innocent; she asked for it, she’s not asking for it, alright? She’s all these contradictions, like the way real humans are when you’re not breaking them down to archetypes. And Dustin Hoffman is the same way. There’s no right or wrong. And even that the lead bully boy, alright, he’s not just this one thing, you know, it’s all a moveable feast—like all the way through to the very, very end. These characters are not archetypes, they grow and they, and you know what—and they’ll do things you don’t understand, they’ll do things you don’t agree with.
Roger And so will the film itself.
Quentin And so with the film itself.
Roger For example, the little Janice—the little local flirt—the 14-year-old girl who’s flirting with the mentally deranged or the inbred David Warner character. Everyone in the town knows that this guy is feeble of mind and cannot control himself, but even when we get into the scene where he strangles her, he’s just trying to keep her quiet.
Quentin Mm hmm.
Roger So everything is a kind of a contradiction. He doesn’t necessarily murder her intentionally.
Roger It’s accidental.
Quentin No, it’s a Lennie in Of Mice and Men situation.
Roger It’s a Of Mice and Men type situation. And so, suddenly, now the movie has Dustin Hoffman’s character, and presumably us, because that’s the character I’m asked to project myself into, protecting that guy who is basically a child murderer.
Quentin Mm hmm. But even to make my point when it comes to that 14-year-old girl. Yeah, she’s wearing short skirts and she’s wiggling ass to get the attention of the boys and everything. But you also feel that there is a genuine—her reaching out to this feeble-minded village idiot. She actually has compassion for him.
Roger Yeah, “Will, you walk me home?”
Quentin Yeah, she’s actually reaching out to him. She is the one—she’s not marginalizing him the way the rest of the village does.
Roger That is true. However, Tom, her father, and Bobby, her brother, are constantly telling her, “Don’t go near that guy.” And even that guys father is being told—I think it’s his father—you know, “keep your son away from my…”
Quentin Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Roger I mean, there is a very clear village thing going on there that is meant to be respected and it shows how —
Quentin I don’t know if any modern people that live in a big metropolis now can even understand these characters that have lived in a village their entire life. And everybody in this village is the only people they’ve ever known, and just like you said, they will never go 15 miles outside of that village.
Roger Yeah. They literally say here, “The neighboring parishes of Dando and Compton Wakely form such a place. Here in the same generation that produced men who looked back at Earth from the blackness of outer space, existed Englishmen to whom the 200-mile journey to London was an almost legendary experience, something that might happen once in a lifetime, if at all.” And that’s who these guys are.
Quentin I mean, are there any film critics today who even know anybody like that? Who even know anybody like that.
Roger That doesn’t exist so much anymore.
Quentin Okay, Peckinpah does know people who’ve only—never left their Texas town.
Quentin Or never left their parish.
Roger I mean, this was the world of not too long ago, actually.
Roger I mean, and they’re talking about this contradiction in time where we’re both on the moon and, you know, we have people who are living like they have, you know, for as they were a thousand years ago.
Quentin But it all leads up to—and you halfway described it a little bit with the village idiot, but I’m not going to go try do a big description of that—but there becomes a siege on the farm where they want to take this this village idiot and, you know, basically tar and feather him or if not kill him.
The guy is in the house and Dustin Hoffman’s looking after him. And so now they’re outside. He tells them to leave. And it’s really kind of interesting. They’re very aggressive with Dustin Hoffman in the house. And they’re threatening and they’re getting physical but they’re still not villains in the movie yet. They haven’t thrown everything away. And when —
Roger They keep asking him —
Quentin And when he says, “Get out!” eventually, as you do if you’re in somebody’s house and they tell you, “Get the fuck out,” they get the fuck out. Now, once they get outside there with the Peter Vaughan character who’s the —
Roger A bunch of ruffians.
Quentin Who’s the old bastard, alright, that is like the ringleader. Like, “Well go back in there?” Well, you know, he could throw us out.
Roger “Yeah, what are you talking about—threw you out?”
Quentin Yeah, but now they’re all together again, you know, in the front of the house, and now they start talking they get their blood up again.
Roger The thing is, they don’t even know yet that the —
Quentin No, no, they don’t even know that.
Roger That the little girl has been murdered.
Quentin They don’t even know that. They just—yeah, they don’t even know that.
So they regroup, they talk themselves into it, and then it starts becoming a thing. And they’re throwing rocks through the window, and they’re creating terror. And then David, finally—Roger’s first movie, The Worm Turns (1983), alright —
Roger Yeah. [laughs]
Quentin The worm turns and it’s really interesting. He truly becomes the man he hadn’t been through the whole movie because he’s defending his house; he’s defending his home. He’s defending his home. He says, “I will not let violence be committed against this house.”
Roger Yeah, “I live in this house.”
Quentin “I will not let violence be committed against it.” And then all of a sudden David has—just shows that, “Oh, wow. This brainy guy actually has some ingenuity when it comes to this.” But one of the things, and I don’t I don’t want to go through a blow by blow because that will ruin the film, but the thing that’s so, I think, truly fantastic about this ending is, again, they never turn into the giggling goofballs that, you know, go in and rape and murder Charles Bronson’s wife and daughter in Death Wish (1974)—they’re just throwing rocks. And it’s one of those weird things where it’s like, okay, they escalate the violence a little bit then something else happens and then there’s an escalation more, and then there’s a slight more escalation and even —
Roger And it’s almost nobody’s fault ever.
Quentin Yeah, exactly. And it’s like, okay, the sequence is almost 30 minutes long and for at least 15 minutes of the sequence, they could all just leave and go, alright. It hasn’t escalated out of control. But then at a certain point it does.
Roger And again, accidentally.
Quentin And again, accidentally. But now there is no choice, there is no going back. There’s no going back for Hoffman and there’s no going back for them.
Roger And they all know it.
Quentin And they all know it.
Roger They all know, “Hey, everybody who’s here is here.”
Quentin This is it now.
Roger And we’ve all seen what’s happened.
Quentin Now we’ve got —
Roger Now we’ve got to clean it up.
Quentin Now we’ve got a conspiracy. Now we’ve got a group that needs to be protected.
Roger And Hoffman is smart enough to know that.
Quentin And to me, one of the wild things about it is—and, you know, how much of a fan I am of cathartic violence—nothing that happens, except for one moment, nothing that happens in the siege is cathartic. It’s all ugly. It’s all—there’s never… It’s not movie fun. There’s no movie fun violence here. This is where Peckinpah is talking about I’m not trying to make movie violence fun for the popcorn eaters. He’s like, this is the one time where it makes sense.
Roger I’ve got one.
Quentin Well, there’s one: When the guy shoots his foot.
Roger Well, I mean, what I was actually thinking of was the trap.
Quentin Okay. That’s pretty good, too.
Roger And the trap is also symbolic.
Quentin But it’s not like: Yeah!
Roger No, well —
Quentin No, but you actually laugh when the guy shoots his foot.
Roger Well, yeah, yeah.
Quentin That’s actually—that’s the one moment he gives the audience.
Roger Especially because it’s the father, Tom Hedden. But like, when he grabs that trap and whacks him in the head with it and it looks like a bear trap or something, it’s —
Quentin Oh, it’s a man trap for poachers!
Roger Oh, it’s a poacher trap.
Roger And he’s—they’ve made this whole thing about all the rats that are loose in this and they’re even throwing rats into the house —
Quentin No, it’s fucking disgusting.
Roger In that end there —
Quentin One of the most disgusting things in the whole goddamn movie.
Roger After they’ve broken the windows. The Rat Man!
Quentin The Rat Man is throwing the rats in there.
Roger And he’s even called the Rat Man at one point. And so, there’s all this, like, kind of rat dialogue going on. And then finally, in the end, Hoffman uses a giant trap.
Quentin So I have a revival review of Straw Dogs that was in The L.A. Reader from February 1983, back when Straw Dogs was playing at the New Beverly, and it’s from Dave Kehr. And Straw Dogs, “released the same year as Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, the Sam Peckinpah film touched off innumerable debates about violence in the movies. But the difference between Kubrick and Peckinpah is a difference between impersonal sadism and an individual morality strongly expressed. Though doubtlessly reactionary, Straw Dogs has the heat of personal commitment and the authority of deep, if bitter, contemplation. It’s also moviemaking of a high order. Dustin Hoffman’s performance as the weak mathematician goaded into violence is still his best.”
Roger I mean, I take a little umbrage at him saying Clockwork Orange is about impersonal sadism. It’s a treatise on, you know, the value of choice.
Quentin I actually understand exactly what he means, and I can actually say —
Roger It was people were very quick to —
Quentin Well —
Roger Slag on Kubrick for being impersonal and cold.
Quentin Well, I still think he’s making a strong case ’cause, I mean, if you’re talking about the case he’s making, I think he’s talking about the violent sequences inside of it. And yeah, Peckinpah is wrestling with a morality that Kubrick is not. Kubrick’s trying to creep us out and then he has a larger political allegory attached at the end of it, but that’s really kind of highfalutin, and—I’m not saying anything is bad about it, I like Clockwork Orange.
Roger No, I know, I know, I know. I just think it’s less—he does make a political allegory, he does talk about the politics of it, but what he’s really talking about is what it means to be able to have choice.
Quentin But it suggested, it’s not personal; it’s a high-flown thesis on the subject of personal choice.
One of my negatives about the film—and I would actually include this in a lot of Peckinpah’s films—where it’s… there’s some directors that have an alliance with the composer and their alliance with the composer takes them to new heights and takes them to heights they can never go to on their own. And those are magnificent marriages, whether it be Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann or De Palma and Pino D’Angiò or Leone and Morricone or Spielberg and Williams. And there’s also directors that align themselves with composers that are lesser than and their work could have been taken to new heights if they hadn’t aligned themselves with them—you know, a big example is a George Miller and Brian May.
Quentin Alright. It’s very corny music all through the Mad Max movies, alright, because of him working with Brian May. And there’s a few other examples, but I actually feel —
Roger He balances out with wipes and things.
Quentin Yeah, yeah.
Roger You know, to try to make it —
Quentin But it’s like he needed a real composer, alright. And I do feel that to, a lesser than that, but I do feel that Jerry Fielding is not a good composer or not special—he’s not special, he’s not unique.
Roger I’m not familiar with Jerry Fielding’s other —
Quentin Oh, well, he’s done all the Peckinpah. He did most of Peckinpah’s movies.
Roger Other than Peckinpah’s films, has he —
Quentin Well, no, he did Outlaw Josey (1976)—you go through and look at it and there’s not a single score you remember, there’s not a single theme you remember. He did a lot of stuff but none of it memorable. I don’t remember a fucking—you know, I like Josey Wales, I barely remember some trumpet kind of theme in there, alright. But there’s nothing where it’s enlivened by Jerry Fielding’s music, you know? In fact, the only time it really kind of works in the Peckinpah movies is when it’s, like, set in the movie. So, like, you know, there’s that great Mexican theme that plays when the guys do their walk, but that’s supposed to be happening in the village.
Roger Right, right.
Quentin And the only music in here that really has any effect —
Roger The Irish or, not the Irish, the Cornish music.
Quentin No, the bagpipes.
Roger Yeah, yeah.
Quentin The bagpipes. I mean, that’s fantastic but that’s set up as a thing in the film, alright. That’s terrific. But none of Jerry—you know, and I do feel that Straw Dogs with a score by Morricone or a score by Luis Bacalov or even Francesco Demasi, Oh my God!
Quentin That would have been fucking fantastic.
Roger Well, maybe somebody out there can, uh…
Roger Take some Morricone music and see if they can do a version of it.
Quentin Or a Bill Conti.
Roger Yeah, Bill Conti would be great.
Quentin Would have been wonderful.
Magnetic Video Corp. Videotape Intro By special arrangement with ABC Video Enterprises, Magnetic Video Corporation is proud to offer the following major motion picture on videocassette.
Quentin And we’re back and we’re joined by Gala Avary.
Gala Hey, Quentin. Hey, Roger.
Roger Hi, there.
Gala First, I wanted just to say, okay, he’s studying stellar bodies—he’s a mathematician, but he’s studying stellar bodies —
Roger Galactic math.
Gala I can’t really figure out— galactic math—I can’t really figure out like what exactly?
Quentin Galactic math? [laughs] I’ve never heard that expression before.
Roger He’s trying to figure out, like, the densities of the inside stars.
Quentin Oh, okay.
Gala But you know what, though? That is exactly what they’re talking about here in 1969, when the first man goes to the moon. He’s like the man on the moon and these are all the Cornish people that have never left their village.
Roger Yeah, they’ve never gone to London.
Gala So it’s like he’s the astronaut. But as Roger said, this is based on the novel by Gordon M. Williams, The Siege of Trencher’s Farm. So where does this title Straw Dogs come from?
This is—while I was doing my research on the movie, I was really surprised to find that it has a Chinese connection. And I don’t speak Chinese, so I apologize to everyone out there for my terrible pronunciation, but a Straw Dog, which is a chú gǒu, is a ceremonial object in ancient China that is used as a substitute for the sacrifice of living dogs. The term chú gǒu now also means anything that is discarded after the first use. So it’s something that you can just throw away after you use it. Straw dogs are actually—it’s a Taoist idea and in chapter five of the Taoist text, the Tao Te Ching, compares living beings to straw dogs: “heaven and earth are not humane; they regard all things as straw dogs. The sage is not humane; he regards all people as straw dogs.” So it’s like just being basically you’re something that can get thrown away.
Roger Yes. So on the cover of the box, it says —
Gala “In the face of every coward burns a straw dog.” Okay, so who are the straw dogs in this movie? I think it’s Susan George.
Gala I think that that’s what they’re saying, ’cause he’s the coward.
Roger Yeah, because in the face of every coward, you’re right—he’s a coward versus a straw dog.
Gala Now, I’ve seen this movie once before. I watched this back in 2014, actually, August 16th. So pretty close to when we’re recording this. My dad showed it to me because he wanted to depict to me what is a powder keg? Like what is a potboiler?
Gala What is this movie that, like, builds and builds and builds and then almost —
Roger Explodes in the end.
Gala Explodes in the end, and you almost don’t even see it coming because it’s so intense.
Roger Well, it’s like you’re a frog boiling and then suddenly by the end, you know, the frog is boiled.
Gala Yeah. And when I when I was younger —
Roger [laughing] That was like the worst —
Quentin No, I liked it. I thought I was funny.
Roger Frog doesn’t know it’s getting boiled until the end.
Gala Yeah. And when I was younger, like, that is exactly what I saw this movie as, like, I didn’t see it coming on my first viewing because you’re kind of just taken away. Now, my thoughts have changed a little bit being older and part of that is like my anger at the synopsis of the film online.
Quentin Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Gala Now, this Magnetic Home Video box does not have this issue that I have with the online description.
Quentin Mm hmm.
Gala Because the online description states that… “a shockingly violent side of him is revealed by her rape.”
Quentin No! It’s not the case at all.
Gala It’s not at all! That’s not the case at all.
Quentin At all.
Gala And I get really upset with that online description, because if you read that and then you watch the movie, your brain is like programed to think, oh, he’s taking revenge for Susan George’s—for Amy’s rape.
Quentin It’s definitely not a revenge for a rape movie.
Roger That’s like written by somebody who probably didn’t see the movie and just imagined the movie.
Gala Yeah, just imagine it. So thank you to this VHS box—this is why VHS is king.
Gala Because we have a description that does not lead you astray and does not brainwash you into thinking that something is one way when it’s not.
Roger Mm hmm.
Gala Okay. I think this movie is undeniably, really good. I don’t think, like, what if people don’t like it? I agree with Peckinpah, they had misunderstand him, they don’t get it. And I think that Susan George and Dustin Hoffman are really good in this movie, but I can’t stand Dustin Hoffman’s character whatsoever. And I think that’s why he’s so good is because he makes me hate him.
Quentin That’s why he’s so good!
Roger That’s why it was so frustrating for me because this is the one avenue I have into the movie—this is my character and this is who I meant to identify with—and, oh my God, he’s such a dick. [laughs]
Quentin He’s a great character but I have nothing but contempt for him.
Roger Well, of course.
Roger Well, I mean, and kudos to Dustin Hoffman for embracing that and rolling with it.
Quentin Absolutely. You can’t even—you can’t imagine anybody playing this role but Dustin Hoffman.
Roger But also he had the power to make this movie happen also.
Quentin Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Gala In that description online, they say that it’s “a shockingly violent side of him”. I actually don’t think it’s so shockingly violent in the end when you look at the breadcrumbs and Roger mentioned it before, where he is like really abusive towards his wife throughout the movie in my opinion at least.
Roger It was super troubling for me as I was watching it.
Gala And watching it as an adult now, I’m seeing it, I’m thinking, geez! Like, first he’s really violent towards this cat that they have.
Roger Yeah. And we’re cat people we like cats.
Gala I’m a cat person. I have—I love my cat.
Roger Although Quentin laughed out loud when [mimicking cat sound]
Quentin [laughing] Oh, I secretly enjoy it whenever like a character is mean to a cat in a movie.
Gala Well, you must’ve been loving it because Dustin Hoffman’s character is so mean to this cat. First he threatens to kill the cat if it goes in his study. Then what does Susan George go do immediately after? She goes in his study, and she changes the minus to a plus. She is that cat that’s going in his study and futzing everything up. When Susan George isn’t hungry, he’s like throwing tomatoes and stuff and he hits the cat. And I know it’s totally not like on purpose.
Roger Yeah, Quentin was laughing out loud. [laughs]
Gala And it actually is a really funny moment. I’m sorry that a cat had to —
Roger He actually nailed that cat.
Gala He nailed that cat.
Quentin [mimicking cat sound]
Roger You nailed that cat nailed that cat.
Gala Yeah, but that’s like him taking his aggression out on Susan George.
Quentin Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, absolutely! Absolutely.
Roger And she is like a cat.
Gala She even says the men have practically been licking her, and he responds, “Did you compliment them on their taste?”
Gala “Why don’t you wear a bra? You shouldn’t go around without one and expect them not to stare.” And she’s like, begging him, like, please like help me. And maybe in one way he’s right, like, because she has a fantastic body and stuff and maybe then just —
Quentin I disagree with that for the simple—it’s 1971, alright.
Quentin That was the —
Gala The context of the time is important.
Quentin In the last two years, all women—maybe not everybody and all the other women in this town —
Gala But let’s also talk about: there’s like two women for like every 40 men. There’s like no women in this town.
Quentin Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Roger The only other girl in the town who’s even remotely like this is who she used to be.
Roger Which is that little Janice girl.
Quentin Yeah. I mean, well, like, it would be easy for, like, somebody then or now criticizing the movie. “Well, he starts the movie off with a shot of Susan George’s nipples piercing through her sweater as she walks down and then he widens out” and like, “Oh, my God. Now that’s the male gaze showing what…” Part of the reason he’s doing that is he’s showing this modern aspect walking through this three hundred, if, three-thousand-year-old village.
Quentin That’s an aspect of it. This is like Swinging London is walking through —
Roger Yeah, it’s nothing. It’s not the male gaze, it’s everyone’s gaze.
Gala Yeah, exactly.
Quentin This Cornish fucking town where, like you said, people haven’t…
Roger Changed their ways in a thousand years.
Quentin People haven’t gone 15 miles outside of that town.
Roger They’ve never been to London. Yeah.
Gala So when the cat is strangled because it’s—as a cat lover, don’t kill the cat—it’s so effective and I’m glad that Sam Peckinpah goes there because this whole movie goes there. Like nothing is enjoyable, as you guys said earlier. But he doesn’t stop her from looking. He doesn’t say like, don’t open the closet door.
Roger Now it makes me wonder did he —
Quentin No, he insinuates don’t open the door.
Gala But he doesn’t stop her.
Quentin He doesn’t stop her.
Gala I think, like, if my cat got strangled —
Roger Yeah, he becomes completely ineffectual in any way whatsoever, he just immediately—he walks over into a corner, practically, and —
Gala And sits down.
Roger And he’s unable to speak as if he’s like —
Quentin No, no, if that happened to me and—”What’s going on? No, no, no, honey.” Then I would explain to her what’s in there. You don’t want to see it?
Gala Yeah, you don’t want to look at that. And he doesn’t stop her from looking, and then when she finally sees and she screams and she says that she tries to see the men that, like, have been leering at her did it—because they’re proving that they can get into the bedroom and he, quote, doesn’t believe it.
Quentin Mm hmm.
Gala Okay, I think Dustin Hoffman totally killed that cat.
Roger I’ve thought about that. I’ve thought about who killed the cat. I’ve gone back and forth on it because —
Quentin I actually never even contemplated that.
Roger There is one moment where the Rat Man says, you know, it’s good to have rats around. Like “the more rats, the more I work.” It’s sort of like he’s laughing about it sort of like, “as long as there’s rats, I’ve got a job.” And so, the cat is basically killing his livelihood.
Quentin Okay, wait a minute no, but there’s nothing I love more than subtextual readings that don’t have to do with anything that the scriptwriter was paying attention to… Dustin Hoffman’s reaction when he sees the cat in the room, he didn’t put it there.
Gala Okay, but here—my one piece of evidence that he might have…
Roger It is a wild—it is an effective reaction.
Gala I think it is an effective reaction. My one piece of evidence that maybe not that he did it, but that Amy thinks that he did it.
Quentin Oh, but that could be.
Gala Because when he —
Quentin Well, no, she doesn’t think he did it.
Gala No, because when Amy tells him, “Go out there and confront them about the cat” and then he doesn’t confront them about the cat, and she brings the beer and she brings the bowl of milk. And then on his blackboard, she writes: Did I catch you off guard? Because she’s trying to catch him off guard in that moment.
Gala That you killed the cat. And I’m trying to see if you were the one that did it, because he doesn’t catch them off guard, and they’re not really off guard by the milk.
Roger Well, like a lot of things in this movie, there is, I mean, one of the criticisms of the movie is that it’s ambiguous. And to me, that’s the strength.
Gala Oh, I love it. I like that it is.
Roger To me that’s the strength of the movie.
Quentin It’s absolutely the strength of the movie!
Roger In fact, I’m not I’m not sure I finished my thought before when I was saying, you know, eroticized, rape, misogynistic sadism, male chauvinism, ambiguity, fascist celebration of violence. I mean, except for a fascist celebration of violence, I almost agree with all of those and that they were intentional.
Quentin Yeah. [laughs]
Roger That the rape has an erotic side to it, that everything has a flip side to it, that he’s showing this kind of, you know, people are living as if they’re a thousand years in the past and there’s people on the moon. We’re in a contradictory time.
Quentin Mm hmm.
Roger And everything about the film seems to be contradictory like that.
Gala Okay, let’s talk about the rape really quick because you guys went over it. I just think it’s extremely effective because of the editing and we have Roger Spottiswoode to thank for that.
Roger Yeah, that’s right.
Gala The director of Tomorrow Never Dies (1997).
Roger Yes, yeah.
Gala And amongst many other things.
Quentin That’s the one you use!
Quentin To describe Roger Spottiswoode. Oh. My. God.
Gala Yes, you want to know why? I’m on a Bond kick right now.
Roger She likes Tomorrow Never Dies.
Gala No! [groans]
Roger Admit it.
Gala But I’m going to pick it.
Quentin Best of times, baby. Best of times.
Roger You just walked into, like, a landmine because one of Quentin’s favorite films —
Quentin You walked into a propeller.
Gala My leg is, like, blown off right now. I’m like, But I love—I love—his editing.
Quentin Oh, he’s a master! He was a master editor.
Gala And the choice of the slowmo that Peckinpah uses when she gets slapped…
Quentin Yeah, yeah.
Gala Is so good. When like, whenever she gets slapped—even when her husband slaps her later during the siege they use the slowmo and it’s so good, like it’s so effective.
Roger And also when they’re at that little village gathering in the pub, it’s sort of like —
Gala The church one you mean?
Roger The church gathering that they’re having, the little celebration they’re having, and they started intercutting…
Gala Oh, the intercutting is so good!
Roger And they start creating this whole village celebration, rape, anxiety, being in public around people—the rape is still fresh in my mind—like it’s super hardcore effective.
Gala Yeah. One of my favorite examples of this in this movie is when Dustin Hoffman finally gets into bed with her after she’s been raped, and he kisses her, and they cut and she’s laying the exact same way that she was laying when she got raped.
Gala And it’s just like—it makes you think about, like, her relationship with her husband, her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, her relationship with the second guy that raped her.
Now, when you asked earlier, like, why doesn’t she tell him? Okay, first off, I think it a little bit answered in the book where it’s like—first off your husband slash —
Roger These people don’t talk.
Gala These people don’t talk. And like she’s coming from the place where your family takes care of your own. And it’s like Dustin Hoffman almost should, like, recognize that something has happened to her.
Quentin Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Gala Like she, I think she’s even bruise on her face and she’s laying there crying, like the fact that she doesn’t say, “What’s going on? Like, what’s wrong? Are you okay?” To any of these signs just…
Quentin No, he relinquishes his role as the man —
Gala As the protector, yeah.
Quentin Of the house and the protector of his woman in, like, an every avenue that’s presented to him before the end.
Gala Yeah. And she calls him a coward. And he goes, “No, I’m not.” And then she says, “I’m a coward.” And he says, “No, I’m not!”
Gala He doesn’t care about her and her feelings whatsoever—he only cares about himself. And I think that’s just exemplified during the siege on the house.
Quentin Mm hmm.
Gala Because his aggression is not revenge on her account, which we’ve kind of talked about. He learns of her rape when he, like, ties the guy’s hands, like when they break through the window and the guy’s there and the guy says, “It wasn’t me. It was like those two guys,” but he doesn’t really register or care, and I think that’s kind of okay because, I mean, people are breaking into your house like you can’t stop and think, “Huh, what’s going on here?”
Gala But then when Amy is just like, “Let’s give up the guy” who tried to strangle her, too…
Quentin Mm hmm.
Gala He says, “I care. This is where I live. This is me. I will not allow violence against this house.”
Roger It’s more of the house.
Gala But he’s already allowed violence against his family and his house because she has been raped.
Gala He just doesn’t recognize it.
Quentin And, you know, and the thing is —
Roger It’s not about her, it’s about the house.
Quentin No, well, that makes sense—no, that makes a lot of sense because the house becomes a metaphor for your manhood, alright?
Quentin And the house becomes even a metaphor for her; the house becomes a metaphor for the family—protecting the house is protecting the family. However…
Roger That house that’s been there —
Quentin The rape would never have happened if he hadn’t just shown himself to be an ineffectual dupe.
Gala If he had not allowed violence against his house earlier.
Roger It is not his house.
Gala It’s her house.
Quentin Fuck it.
Roger Neither in the book nor in the movie is this his house. This is a Cornish house made from Cornish turf built up and it’s being fixed up by Cornish guys.
Quentin It is her house. It’s her father’s house. It is her house.
Roger It’s not his house.
Quentin But by being the man and the house, it becomes the house.
Gala So the thing is, it should be —
Quentin It should! It should!
Gala Like if he is her husband, it is his house. But he has failed already because violence has already been enacted upon his house.
Quentin Okay. And one of the things that’s so great about this discussion is one of the things that it just highlights compared to all these other kind of vigilante revenge, this kind, you know, this this type of thing, alright—this type of movie that I like, I love them. Even the bad ones.
Quentin I like them.
Gala Yeah, they’re so fun.
Quentin They’re fun. But this movie illustrates how black and white they all are. And this movie is almost problematic because it’s not black and white enough.
Gala It’s in shades of IB Technicolor.
Quentin Absolutely. I mean, there’s not a clear read or bead on any character in this movie.
Gala And that’s why it’s so good.
Quentin It’s why it’s—it’s a why it’s a work of art! It’s why it’s art.
Gala And that’s also why it’s rewatchable.
Gala Why I can rewatch this movie years later and have a different opinion or see something different is because it’s in shades of gray.
Quentin And as far as I’m concerned if this movie is a stake—even us right now, we’ve chewed it three or four times and then we spit it out, alright? We haven’t even really, really chewed what this movie really has to offer.
Roger The kind of analysis that’s required for this kind of film, because this movie, the book, may just be a less than adequate book that he made great.
Roger You know, by bringing himself to it.
Quentin This needs like twelve pages of dense analysis on paper to truly do it any kind of justice.
Gala It’s a whole thesis.
Roger I mean, this movie is the great literature that the book kind of wishes it was. I mean, I feel like I’m reading something in an English, you know, 101 class. And everything has depth, and nothing is clear, and that ambiguity that people were complaining about when the movie came out is the great strength of the film, and it’s why it persists.
Gala Okay. When you brought up the wrap catcher guy.
Gala One of my favorite lines in the entire movie is when he throws the rat into the house during the siege and he says, “I don’t just kill them. I breed them, too.”
Gala And he’s like—because he’s releasing the rats into the city so that he has job.
Quentin Yeah, yeah, yeah, so he has a job. Yeah.
Gala I love that line because, like, “I don’t just kill them. I breed them, too.” He’s like, throwing them in.
Roger He’s the rat man.
Gala And then, lastly, the one of the weirdest parts of the movie—because we’re talking about all this ambiguity and like Quentin and Roger talked about when she’s being raped and then like three quarters of the way through, she kind of succumbs—during the siege on the house, one of the guys, not the village nitwit, but one of the many men goes up there and tries to rape her again. And I’m not sure if it’s like the guy —
Quentin No, it’s a guy with the shotgun.
Gala Yeah. So it’s that guy.
Roger Yeah, the brother.
Gala So he tries to rape her again.
Quentin Mm hmm.
Gala And who goes up there and blows him away but her rapist, ex-boyfriend. It’s not Dustin Hoffman that goes up there and pushes the guy off and, like, stops it from happening. It’s her ex-boyfriend.
Quentin Well, you know, he didn’t bring that guy along and he was under the same—he was facing the same double barrels of the shotgun that she was.
Quentin You know, when he deals himself into this card hand.
Gala Yeah. I just think that’s like, even in the end, when Dustin Hoffman’s, like, all macho, like, “I’m going to defend this house, I will not allow violence on this house.” He’s, like, still allowing violence on her. And it’s the ex-boyfriend who stops it.
Roger Well, and Peckinpah is also still giving us a kind of, you know, a moment of ambiguity in that suddenly this guy is doing something that we want as an audience.
Quentin Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Roger And then he has the guy who’s getting shot basically ask for it like he knows what he’s done is wrong.
Quentin Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Roger Like there’s all sorts of moral questions being presented constantly throughout the film.
Quentin As much as these bully-boy scumbags are bully-boy scumbags, they’re not a one note movie motorcycle gang.
Quentin Alright, that just shows up as villains.
Roger They’re just the local guys.
Quentin They’re the local guys. And it all spiral just way, way, way, way, way out of control.
Gala Yeah. So I love Straw Dogs. I think it’s a great movie. I think there’s so much to talk about it as Quentin said, we only chew it up a little bit and scratch the surface, but there’s so much you can go into. I think it’s just great.
I bought my copy. It is a Magnetic Home Video. Also, apparently, it’s a first release. This movie has been edited like through time because it came out in 1971, same year as Clockwork Orange and both movies featured heavy editing because of the violence, I believe.
Quentin Well, no. A Clockwork Orange was rated X because they didn’t…
Roger In the case of Clockwork Orange, he just pulled the movie at a certain point.
Gala He just pulled it?
Gala So apparently this is the first release—I’m not sure, I think it’s the exact same one that Quentin has.
Quentin Yeah. Ah-huh.
Gala My video tape actually comes from Killeen Video at: 413 East Rancier in Killeen, Texas, 76541. There is a $1 charge if tape is not rewound.
Gala Do you guys do that at Video Archives?
Quentin No, no we didn’t.
Roger It looks like your tape is stopped halfway through.
Gala Yeah, this person is going to get a $1 —
Roger This person, actually, I wonder where they stopped. I mean, that’s one of the great things about VHS is that —
Quentin It’s one of the things that we always would do is when I take one of the Video Archives tapes and I know I haven’t seen it, alright, since I got the collection and I see it stopped somewhere along the way, “Oh, wow, this is this is where the customer watched it up until this point. And then they stopped. Oh, so what’s that point?” Where did they stop at. [laughs]
Gala Where did they stop? And this tape is A707 because Killean Video put it in the Action section.
Roger You know what? It has stickers on it that say Action.
Gala Yeah, it’s in the Action section.
Roger The Action section.
Roger I guess it was a big renter in the Action section there.
Gala Well, if anyone rented this tape from Killean Video they should let us know.
Roger In Texas, this is an action film.
Quentin Yeah, yeah, right? It is an action film.
Roger You know, I actually just wanted to say really quick. As we’ve been talking, I’ve started thinking: I’m not sure there are any actual villains in the movie other than cowardice, which is the central cause of everything ultimately. It’s just not being a man and not standing up to people and not being direct with people.
Quentin I think the benevolent idiot who shows up with a double barrel shotgun and even though it’s explained that, you know, he’s simple minded a little bit and he has this sexual obsession with Susan George—yeah, I think he’s a villain.
Roger Well, he and he and the father are the closest you get in the movie to actual villains.
Quentin Yeah, yeah. But even the father is just a loudmouth at the end of the day, alright.
Roger And he is rightfully concerned.
Roger About that guy who’s going around my daughter —
Quentin No, Again, no, no. I mean —
Roger He’s rightfully concerned. That’s what Peckinpah is doing.
Quentin The crazy ambiguity that Dustin Hoffman is almost fighting these ruffians to almost avenge his wife for the rape that happened to her by at their hands, but he doesn’t know about the rape. And then the ruffians are trying to get into the house because of their daughter that they don’t even know is dead!
Roger Yeah. She’s only missing.
Gala Thanks, guys, for listening to the Video Archives Podcast. Thank you, Quentin Tarantino.
Quentin That’s me.
Gala And Roger Avary.
Roger That’s me.
Gala I’m Gala Avary signing out and see you guys next time!
Quentin See you in two weeks! See-ya.
Gala The Video Archives Podcast is hosted by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary and produced by Josh Richmond and Gala Avary. Our engineer is Devon Tory Bryant, and our executive producers are Colin Anderson and Natalie Mooallem. Find out more about the show by heading to: videoarchivespodcast.com You can also find us on Twitter @VideoArchives and on Instagram @videoarchivespod.