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Amazing facts about the movie, Deliverance, and Burt Reynolds

Amazing facts about the movie, Deliverance, and Burt Reynolds


Part Two of the People of One Fire Series on the movie Deliverance and Burt Reynolds

Deliverance is now a part of history

Although it did not win an Oscar because of the hostility of the Hollywood elite toward the Southeast at that time,  Deliverance has become the most watched movie of the Sixties and Seventies on Youtube.  However, it was the first of a string blockbuster movies, filmed in Georgia,  which have really continued unto this day.  In many months, there are more movies and TV programs being filmed in Georgia than any other location in North America . . . a few months, the world.

The corridor along the Chattooga River in Northeast Georgia, where Deliverance was filmed has essentially turned into a popular amusement park, where rubber inflated rafts make the hazardous journey down the river every 45 minutes during weekends and summer months. 

Did you know that . . .

  • All of Burt Reynolds’ roles in movies and TV prior to the filming of Deliverance involved him playing a full-blooded Native American.  He was originally supposed to portray an educated Indian from Atlanta in Deliverance, but that was written out of the script during filming.  That’s right . . . Burt Reynolds got the part in Deliverance, because everyone thought that he was a Southeastern Indian! The only Native American part of the original film that you see now, is when he is shooting fish with a bow and arrow.
  • At various times in his life,  Burt has described himself as being part Seminole, Cherokee or Comanche . . . but at the tale end of his life claimed to have no Native American ancestry . . .  but that was not true either.  He really is part Native American, but his hirsute body makes me think that most of his supposed Native American features are actually Middle Eastern or Mediterranean.  Men with significant levels of Native American DNA have practically no body hair.
  • There were no stuntmen working on the set of Deliverance, because of its minuscule budget.  The four main actors did all of the canoeing scenes themselves.  All of them carried terrifying memories of the experience throughout the rest of their life. Burt Reynolds was seriously injured in one scene and was taken to the hospital.  All his life, he suffered pains from those injuries.  Astonishingly,  the film production company had no insurance, if someone was injured.  Director John Boorman paid for Burt’s medical bills out of his own pocket.
  • The cliff that Jon Voight climbed in order to save the life of Ned Beatty is now named Voight Mountain.
  • The creek flowing pass the “Squeal Like A Pig” scene is now named Sodomy Creek on maps.
  • Burt Reynold lied about his birthplace for most of his career . . .  stating that he grew up in Waycross, GA, when he was actually born and grew up Lansing, Michigan.  However, the situation is not quite as simple as Wikipedia would have you believe.  We will tell you about the Waycross connection in the next article.   I WAS born in Waycross.
  • Burt Reynolds was the first actor offered the role of Hans Solo in Star Wars . . . but turned it down.
  • Burt Reynolds was the first actor offered the role of James Bond in the original James Bond movies . . . but turned it down.
  • Burt Reynolds was the first actor offered the lead role in Pretty Woman, but turned it down. 


*After watching the premier of Deliverance in Mexico City,  my girlfriend, Alicia, became temporarily terrified at the thought of moving to Georgia.   She asked me, “Ricardo, are all the Gringos in Georgia like those in the movie?   I am afraid to move there unless we can live near nice people like you and your sister.”



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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    Reynolds was brilliant in the role of Lewis in Deliverence and was never able to top it for the rest of his career. His authentic Georgia accent and convincing role as the archetypal white southern male with an edge provided the perfect counterweight to the urbanized, and therefore weakened, characters played by Ned Beatty, Ronnie Cox, and John Voight. Dickey’s central message of man’s ultimate subjugation to nature is born when the ideal, rugged individualist played by Reynolds is tossed over the rapids, incurring a compound fracture of his left leg. Voight must take up the mantle of manliness and survival, and carries the torch for Reynolds as the surviving adventurers are graced with an unlikely deliverance indeed. But Reynolds played the role that primarily drove Dickey’s novel and Boorman’s screenplay with his character’s prescient view of a dystopian future for the Western World, and uttered the key lines in the film…..”You don’t beat the rivah, you don’t beat it.” The film has always carried around the albatross of the sensationalized rape scene, but survives as A great American film. Reynolds’ commanding presence in the prime of his masculinity went a long way toward making it that way

    • Well said . . . no one ever expected it, though, to radically change the recreational and social norms of a generation.


      I disagree about the accents created by the actors. Only Ned Beatty did a passable southern accent, among the lead characters. Voight, Reynolds and Cox all turned in laughable attempts at sounding southern. James Dickey, as the sheriff, had a genuine accent, but it was natural for him.

      • Also, remember that there are many different southern accents. The “old families” around Brunswick and Darien, GA sound like they should be in Scotland. Northeast Georgians sound like the folks in southern Virginia, because that is where most of their ancestors came from. When I was living in the Asheville, NC area, I had a scary experience. PBS and BBC jointly produced “The History of the English Language.” When the producers traveled to Western North Carolina, they had to put English subtitles under many of the locals interviewed. Very quickly I realized to my shock that I understood these people without needing subtitles or translations! LOL


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