Straw Dogs is a British-American thriller from 1971 film directed by Sam Peckinpah. The scenario of the film is based on the novel The Siege of Trencher's Farm (1969) by Gordon m. Williams. Composer Jerry Fielding earned with Straw Dogs a Oscar nomination for his score.

Straw Dogs earned a reputation because of the explicit violence and a detailed rape scene. At the preview performances ran a number of visitors shocked way halfway through the movie. The reception among the critics in the u.s. was good; that extremely negative in the United Kingdom. In terms of visitor numbers this was exactly reversed. Straw Dogs was a bigger success in Europe than in the us. In the United Kingdom did the movie make it even better in the cinemas. The film brought $ 11.1 million on worldwide.

On september 16, 2011 came a remake of Straw Dogs, written and directed by Rod Lurie. Another version that was announced in 2002 with John Polson for the Director and starring Edward Norton , was never concrete.


[hide]*1 Story


Teacher David Sumner goes with his wife Amy live on the English countryside. They have some marital problems. The rural population finds the newbies but a strange duo, and set them to the test. After they meet David on duck hunting, they leave him behind in a swamp from which he must save themselves but. One of them goes to his house and raped Amy. The pacifist teacher endures it all, to a feeble-minded young man from the village of accidentally kills a girl. He is hounded by the villagers who want to lynch him and comes as the House of Sumner the teacher. That hides him in the sink cabinet. The villagers decide definitely not by an intellectual from the town where they already should have nothing. They lay siege to the House of the Sumners to be their version of the right. There does something in David. No border goes to him from that moment still too far to keep the violent group of body piece.

Division Of Roles[Edit]Edit

For History[Edit]Edit

An American novel[Edit]Edit

The scenario of Straw Dogs was based on the novel The Siege of Trencher's Farm by Gordon m. Williams in 1969. In september 1969 bought production company Talent Associates the film rights of Gordon. It was intended that the head of David Susskind 's Talent Associates, a film based on the book, would produce for ABC Pictures Corp.. The film would be shot on location in New York City and Quebec. As a Director Charles Jarrott would be attracted, while John Hale would write the screenplay. But this production stagnated and in March 1970 took the rights to producer David Melnick . Melnick decided to film the novel on the location that Williams in his book had it figured out, Cornwall in England. For the Director he had a Director on the eye with whom he had previously worked, but not well known in Hollywood, Sam Peckinpah.

A film adaptation in England[Edit]Edit

Director Sam Peckinpah was notorious in Hollywood because of his whimsy, but a movie mainly because of his inability to complete on time and on budget. Warner Brothers had after the production The Ballad of Cable Hogue at least had enough of the Director. Peckinpah had nine ten extra shooting days and an additional budget of $ 3 million needed to finalize the already chaotic production. The contract with Sam Peckinpah was not renewed and the Director sat without commands. It was producer Daniel Melnick who came to England with the offer to come for the recordings of Straw Dogs. Melnick knew Peckinpah still from the production of the television film Noon Wine (1966), a film that was unexpectedly successful and Peckinpah returned to Hollywood, after which he could direct The Wild Bunch . Peckinpah wanted, as he always did, first the Screenwriting. He asked aid to playwright Harold Pinter, but who found the topic of the novel to repulsive. So began Peckinpah to the job with screenwriter David Zelag Goodman.



When writing the scenario went Peckinpah to work rigorously. He found the novel by Gordon Williams not quite consistent with his ideas about the theme, violence between seemingly peace-loving citizens. He maintained the original theme of a group of rural residents who threaten a young couple from the city, but added there a violent rape and much more extreme violence to it. Peckinpah was inspired by the books ofRobert Audrey, "African Genesis: A Personal Investigation into the Animal Origins and Nature of Man" (1961) and "The Territorial Imperative: A Personal Inquiry into the Animal Origins of Property and Nations" (1966). Audrey sets in these books that man always a carnivore will continue, a predator that is fighting for his territory. David Zelag Goodman went along with Peckinpah on the battle of this theme in the scenario to work out. They maintained the idea of an American professor, David Sumner, who with his wife Amy buys a house in Cornwall. They also maintained the idea that David and Amy are attacked by a group of local inhabitants after a child murderer David access route and the guy let go into hiding in the House. In the scenario of Peckinpah and Goodman is violence exaggerated. The somewhat lethargic young and pacifist David Sumner grows into a predator that defends his wife and territory by all means. That is shown by the fact that David eradicates all assailants literally, a good example of a primitive man who defends his territory.

Recasting of the novel[Edit]Edit

The novel "The Siege of Trencher's Farm" by Williams was substantially reworked. In the novel turns the story to George and Louise Magruder and their eight-year-old daughter Karen to come live at Trencher's Farm in Cornwall. Peckinpah and Goodman left the daughter away from the screenplay and changed the names of George and Louise Magruder in David and Amy Sumner. Amy is also in the movie a lot younger and more free-spirited than Louise in the novel. George is in the novel a professor of English who want to finish a book in Cornwall, in the film David is a shy mathematician the chaos of college life in the US (marmaros) for a quiet existence in Cornwall. Amy is just like Louise English by birth, but in the film has Amy more links with the village where they live, they will come from and the character Charlie Venner is in the movie her former boyfriend. In the book, this is not. By the characters more with each other to strengthen the Crosslinking screenwriters the theme of the territory. In the film work Charlie Venner and his colleagues to the renovation of the House of the Sumners, this does not appear in the book. The rape scene, one of the most recognizable scenes in the movie, comes in the book for. Another important difference is the character of Henry Niles. In the book is Henry a pedophile, who had previously murdered has, in the film he is the village idiot who supposedly has a girl sexually assaulted and killed accidentally. The teen Janice Hedden from the movie after all, is in the novel an eight year old child with emotional problems. The Scottish writer Gordon Williams was furious about the recasting of his novel. He was so disgusted by the violence and rape, that he swore never more the rights of his books to sell to an American.


Peckinpah and Goodman also modified the title of the novel of "The Siege of Trencher's Farm" in Straw Dogs. The new title was inspired by a phrase from the "Tao Te Ching" of the Chinese philosopher Laozi: "Heaven and Earth are ruthless and treat the myriad creatures as straw dogs; the sage is ruthless and treats the people as straw dogs. " A ' straw dog ' is a dog that used to be made of straw in China was used as a peace offering to the gods.


David Sumner[Edit]Edit

For the role of the frustrated Sumner Davis considered mathematical Peckinpah and Melnick various actors like Beau BridgesStacy KeachSidney PoitierJack NicholsonElliott Gould and Donald Sutherland. But in the end gave the boyish and shy look of Dustin Hoffman clinched it for me. Hoffman had then been the reputation of a difficult actor to work with. He also interfered in Straw Dogs regularly with the auditions, screenplay and direction. Hoffman had decided to take the role because he was intrigued by the character of the character, a pacifist who eventually can't suppress his primal emotions and out in extreme violence.

Amy Sumner[Edit]Edit

The character Amy is one of origin British woman, so were several British actresses considered as Judy GeesonJacqueline Bisset, Diana RiggHelen MirrenCarol White, Charlotte Rampling and Hayley Mills. Also the then-girlfriend of Peckinpah Joie Gould was a candidate. Eventually the virtually unknown Susan George was a favorite. Her future opponent, Dustin Hoffman, saw the choice for George not be. The actor always put a lot of time in the background of his characters and in his opinion would never a shy man as David Sumner with the beautiful and Lolita-like Susan George are married. Peckinpah and Melnick's comments, however, ignored Hoffman.

Other roles[Edit]Edit

The British actor Trevor Howard got the role of major General Scott offered, but Howard refused, after which T.P. McKenna took over. For the role of Charlie Venner saw Peckinpah like or Richard Harris or Peter O'Toole but both actors had no interest, after which Del Henney got the role. The roles of June Brown (as the wife of Hedden) and Chloe Franks (Emma Hedden) disappeared from the movie. The scene where they with Amy (Susan George) do the laundry, in the scenario, but was ultimately not filmed. Same thing happened to Michael Mundell which was initially chosen as Cawsey, the Pied Piper. Later it was decided that he had to play the role of Bertie Hedden in a scene with the village children. However, the scene was deleted because of time problems and budget overruns and never filmed, with which also the role of Mundell disappeared.


Read warning: text below contains details about the content and/or the end of the story.===Recordings[Edit]===

The recordings started on January 7, 1971 and were closed on 29 april 1971. Before it was decided to opt for Straw Dogs was worked under working titles as "Siege at Trencher's Farm", "The Siege of Trencher's Farm" and "The Square Root of Fear". As with many films of Peckinpah were the shots chaotic. The Director himself brought the production in big trouble by pneumonia on to run after a night bend at the sea atland's End with actor Ken Hutchinson. He spent ten days in a hospital and producer threatened to dismiss him if he not sober Melnick would continue during the production. A number of actors sang for inconveniences. Actor David Warner as limped (Henry Niles) during the recordings not because this was defined in the scenario, but because he had broken his leg in the run of the production. T.P. McKenna who played major Scott had his arm in a sling, a result of a wild party with Peckinpah where he broke his arm. In the film, no reason given for the sling. Peckinpah also wore out three cameramen. The first was fired, the second took itself dismissal for religious reasons after he had read the scenario.

The rape scene[Edit]Edit

Before the recordings started left Peckinpah Hoffman and George two weeks living together in a House. This allowed the actors to get used to each other more. This was certainly necessary given the sometimes heavy scenes of the two protagonists. In particular Susan George had it hard with the rape scene. According to the scenario she would be raped twice by, respectively, the characters Venner and Scutt. But everything was rather vague in the scenario described. Peckinpah refused to George to explain how he would film the scene. She kept pressing and heard to her horror that the second rape anal would be and that he wanted to bring into focus both rapes. This threatened the actress to resign. The Director eventually went tack and filmed both rapes with emphasis on the face and the eyes of Susan George instead of on her body.


The counterpart of George, Dustin Hoffman had its own problems. The actor likes to be lived entirely in his role in and were looking for ways to to act as natural as possible. Well his frenzy to come true if he a man death let those on the floor, he asked coconuts to save. Remnants of the coconuts flew through the room and to see on the film is that a particle flies along in front of the camera. Other scenes were less severe. As Hoffman in his role of Sumner enters the other actors a pub what alienated respond. Peckinpah became frustrated because he wasn't the right facial expressions, he saw Hoffman asked to pull his pants off. The subsequent rise of the actor gave equal the good response. Another improvisation came also from Hoffman. For the end of the film was originally a scene with which the children of the killed villagers threaten to continue the siege. Lack of money was killed by time and the scene. Dustin Hoffman improvised when the sentence: ' that he also knew not the way home '.


The film was largely shot in Cornwall, England, especially in the villages of St. Buryan, Lamorna Cove and St. Ives. St Buryan was the location for the village of Wakeley (cemetery, village street and the pub). The farmhouse Tor Noon in Morvoh, Cornwall was a model for Trencher's Farm. Studio recordings were made in the Twickenham Film Studios, St Margarets, Twickenham, Middlesex, England.

Post Production[Edit]Edit

The first editor of the film, an unknown Englishman, was by producer Melnick fired because the man at the studio went to complain that the film material shot by Peckinpah fickle and unconventional was to be mounted. Then wanted to hire Lou Lombardo , Peckinpah editor with whom he had previously worked with The Wild Bunch, but Lombordo was busy with the Assembly of McCabe and Mrs. Miller. According to the British Trade Union rules should not hire more than one American Peckinpah. So Roger Spottiswoodeeditors worked, a Canadian, and the British Tony Lawson and Paul Davies to the Assembly, while the AmericanRobert Wolfe was appointed as ' mounting consultant '. He had the supervision over the Assembly. By now it was Peckinpah in the US already started the preproduction of his next film Junior Bonner, whereby the four editors of England moved to Hollywood to make the movie.


The film received mixed reactions to the release in 1971. The rape scene, in particular the key scene in the movie, got smashed. Peckinpah was accused of glorifying rape, sadism and chauvinism. Because the character Amy in the first rape by Venner seems to give in to her rape and it even seems to appreciate (She kisses and caresses her rapist) critics found that he deliberately rape myth, "if it is inevitable, then enjoy it but from", held in place. Other critics were believe that Peckinpah with the rape scene shows how traumatic this sexual violence can be. The violence in the film was also criticized, with the outlier that Peckinpah a fascist position, where the individual takes the law into its own hands. Proponents of Peckinpah there just at that point the character Sumner the innocent Henry protects against a lynch mob. Peckinpah himself saw the film as a study of violence, which he wanted to cure himself of his obsessions with violence, growing out of the human deficiency not to communicate but to store away. According to him, the villain from the movie, Sumner the real pacifist who apparently yeast of the suppressed violent feelings that come to explosion.



The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) saw a working copy of Straw Dogs which had not yet been finished. It was only for changes, such as in the Assembly of the murder scene in which Amy Venner and the second rape anal raped. After the adjustments were incorporated into the film, the film was released for the cinema. Though the film got a X-status (adults only). In the USA were more parts from the rape scene to get a R-status. (R = restricted, for 17 years and older or 16 years and over, with a parent.)

Video and dvd[Edit]Edit

When the studio wanted to release the film on video in 1984, this was stopped by the BBFC. Head James Ferman censorship wanted three minutes from the rape scene flipping, but did not quite know which parts had to disappear. The film was then, on the basis of the Video Recordings Act of 1984 banned for video Edition. In 1987 a new attempt but after a violent explosion in Hungerford (see Hungerford massacre), the film was again of video banned. Another three attempts failed until the studio in 1999 most of the second rape scene deleted. In March 1999 the video would eventually come out in the United Kingdom in this form. But the BBFC kept the issue again because now the emphasis too much would lie on the ' fun ' that Amy to the first rape seems to experience. In september 2002, an uncensored version on dvd from. At the same time also appeared the video without changes.


  • Douglas Brode, "The movies or Dustin Hoffman", 1988
  • Lester d. Friedman, "American cinema of the 1970s: themes and variations", 2007
  • Peter Lev, "American movies of the ' 70s: conflicting visions", 2000
  • Jurgen Muller, "Movies of the 70s", 2003
  • Stephen Prince, "Screening violence (depth of field)", 2000
  • Garner Simmons, "Peckinpah, A Portrait in Montage", 1982
  • J. David Slocume, "Violence and American Cinema", 2000
  • Steven j. Schneider, "New Hollywood Violence", 2004
  • David Weddle, "If They Move ...Kill 'em! ", 1994
  • Straw Dogs Official UK Hub Site-Cult Laboratories

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