“Sometimes you have to lose yourself before you can find anything.”
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary argues that the “film is both provocative and an extremely powerful nail-biter”, and adds the weirdly unnecessary caveat that “it’s too intense and violent for kids” (no kidding!!!). Finally, he points out that the movie is “beautifully filmed by Vilmos Szigmond”, and that a “highlight is when Cox plays ‘Dueling Banjos’ with a young hillbilly” (Billie Redden, a local who was cast for his appearance rather than actual ability to play the banjo). I have little to add to Peary’s accurate review, other than stressing that this is a film I fully acknowledge as brilliant, but don’t want to watch again for a really, really long time. With that said, I adore everything about the dueling banjos scene — from the creative camera angles (it’s no coincidence that Redden is placed far above Cox) and close-ups of Redden’s face, to the juxtaposition of the beginning of this scene with Reynolds’ negotiations to find drivers for their trip, to Beatty’s disparagingly throwaway comment about “genetic deficiencies” as Redden deftly strums, to the old man in a hat hopping around in dancing delight (while Beatty openly mocks him), to Cox’s humble admission near the end of the song (“I’m lost”) as Redden’s grin widens and he continues playing. This group does indeed become lost, unaware of the dangerous and impenetrable power dynamics they’re about to enter into.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)