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Straw Dogs: Criterion Collection

David (Dustin Hoffman) and Amy Sumner (Susan George) arrive in a small Cornish village — where Amy grew up — so David can research experimental mathematics. Upon their arrival Amy runs into Charlie Venner (Del Tenney), whom she used to date. Though Amy feels at home, David is out of place among the more manly men in town, in particular trouble-maker Tom Hedden (Peter Vaughan). Though noting that Venner has an interest in his wife, David invites him and one of his friends to work on his roof, joining Norman Scutt (Ken Hutchinson) and Chris Cawsey (Jim Norton). But once the boys start working together, Amy's cat is found hung dead in their closet. And when she wants David to question the boys on who did it, he instead gets them to help hang a bear trap in their living room. The turning point for everyone occurs when David accepts an invitation to go hunting; Charlie then goes back to seduce/rape Amy, only to have Scutt show up and insist (at gunpoint) he get his turn. Amy suffers but keeps quiet, and things get even worse after David accidentally hits pedophile Henry Niles (David Warner, in an unbilled performance) with his car and takes him to his home. What David doesn't know is that Henry disappeared with Tom Hedden's daughter, and she's now missing. Once back at the Sumner home, Tom and the boys show up insisting they get Henry to deal with as they may. It's at this point that David (finally) takes a stand. Such is Sam Peckinpah's most inciting and insightful Straw Dogs, a film that challenges viewers to accept the notion that no act is entirely right or wrong, as the film's sex and violence provokes a variety of emotions. Criterion two-disc release presents the film in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and Dolby Digital 1.0. Included on the first disc is an isolated music-and-effects track, and an audio commentary by Stephen Prince (who wrote Savage Cinema: Sam Peckinpah and the Rise of Ultraviolent Movies). On the second disc is the documentary Sam Peckinpah: Man of Iron, the featurette "On Location: Dustin Hoffman," recent interviews with producer Daniel Melnick and Susan George, location footage, correspondence from Peckinpah in regards to Straw Dogs criticisms, a trailer, and TV spots. Dual-DVD keep-case.
—DSH

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