Pix from the TCM Film Festival screening of “Deliverance,” introduced by Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, and director John Boorman. I know some people objected to 1970s films being included in the Festival, but to me, a classic film is a classic film.

And the panel discussion was awesome! I got very choked up when Burt came out, as he seemed very frail, walking haltingly with the aid of a cane. But once he started talking, the years fell away from him completely. He recalled the scene where his character goes over the falls, which was originally shot with a dummy because no stunt man would do it. But the resulting footage looked, well, like a dummy going over the falls. So Burt, who was in incredibly good shape at the time, volunteered to do the stunt himself.  

"Now I’ve got it all planned out in my head," he recalled. "I’ll go over the side, and hit this rock and then go here and then land there. But several tons of rushing water has a mind of its own. So what happened was, I went over, got knocked the hell all over the place, and then got slammed down to the bottom of the falls. My clothes were torn off, I broke my tailbone and punctured my chest. I went over the falls a pretty fit young guy in his thirties and hit bottom a nude 90-year-old man."

But at least they got great footage, right? Burt turned to John Boorman and asked, mock-angrily, “Do you remember what you said when I asked you how it looked?” Boorman, almost talking into his shirt, replied, “I said it looked like a dummy.”

Then it was time for Ned Beatty to talk about his, um, big scene. What did he think when he read the script? “Well, I’m an AC-TOR. I ACT. That’s what I do. So I simply looked at it as another acting challenge.”  Zzzz… 

Jon Voight wasn’t so sanguine about that scene, even though he wasn’t the victim. “When I read the script, that really struck me. There seemed to be so much violence, I was really hesitant. But my girlfriend read it and said, ‘Are you crazy? This is a great story!”

And a great movie. “I’ve made about 70 movies in my life,” said Burt. “But only one real film. And that’s this one. After they told me I’d been cast, I started running along the street outside the studio literally yelling, ‘I got the part! I got the part!’ Like something out of an old movie!” If ever there was a crowd that could appreciate that, it was this one…

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