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Palgrave Macmillan

Straw Dogs

ISBN 9780230296701
Publication Date September 2011
Formats Paperback Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Controversies

Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs ignited fierce debate among censors, critics and audiences on both sides of the Atlantic on its release in 1971. When Amy (Susan George) returns to her home village with her American peacenik husband David (Dustin Hoffman), the residents of this tight-knit Cornish community slowly turn on them. The sexual tension and latent violence finally erupt in an explosion of violence that includes a rape scene that has remained controversial to this day. The film was heavily cut for theatrical release in the US, and the pressinspired furore in the UK led to several local councils cutting or banning it outright. Later, caught in the wake of the 'video nasties' panic of the 1980s, Straw Dogs was refused a home-video certificate in the UK for nearly twenty years.

Stevie Simkin's study sheds light on the film's treatment by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and tracks its subsequent tortuous journey towards home-video release, buffeted by various shifts in the BBFC's policy on representations of sexual violence. But, equally importantly, Simkin provides a highly original accountof themaking of the film, drawing on extensive research in Peckinpah's archive, including analysis of draft scripts, notes, memos and contemporary press items, as well as insights from a number of Peckinpah's associates, and key figures at the BBFC.

'A swift, compelling read. Thorough and scholarly without the faintest whiff of academic stuffiness, Stevie Simkin's study of Straw Dogs summons up the turmoil of the 1960s and 70s and illuminates the highly charged subject of sexual violence on film.'
Stephen Farber, Film Critic, The Hollywood Reporter

Stevie Simkin is Reader in Drama and Film at the University of Winchester, UK. He is the author of, among other works, Revenge Tragedy: A New Casebook (2001), Early Modern Tragedy and the Cinema of Violence (2005), and, also in the Controversies series, a volume on Basic Instinct (forthcoming, 2013).

STEVIE SIMKIN is Reader in Drama and Film at the University of Winchester, UK. He is the author of, amongst other works, Revenge Tragedy: A New Casebook (2001), Early Modern Tragedy and the Cinema of Violence (2005), and, also in the Controversies series, a volume on Basic Instinct (forthcoming, 2013).

Contents
Acknowledgements
A Note on References
Introduction
Synopsis
PART I: STRAW DOGS THEN
Production History
Genesis and Pre-Production
Shooting and the Problem of Susan George
The Editing Process: Shaping an Ending
Original Release and Reception
England Swings, America Rocks: Straw Dogs in its Cultural Context
Feminism and the Sexual Revolution
Backlash: Morality, Censorship and the MPAA
Straw Dogs and the American Censors
Straw Dogs, American Audiences and American Critics
Sixties Britain: a Quieter Revolution
Straw Dogs and the UK Critics
PART II: STRAW DOGS NOW
Home Video Release: the Video Nasties Debate
Eighteen Years in the Wilderness
Moving with the Times: the BBFC and sexual violence
Straw Dogs Unbound
PART III: KEY THEMES AND IDEAS
Introduction
Straw Dogs, Masculinity and Violence
Straw Dogs and Vietnam
A Man's House Is
The Problem of Amy 
PART IV: KEY SCENE ANALYSIS
The Rape Scene: Introduction
Venner's Arrival
The First Rape
The Second Rape
Script Development
Eroticising, Endorsing
PART V: THE LEGACY OF STRAW DOGS
Straw Dogs
, Survival Horror and Rape Revenge
Remake/Remodel
Closing Thoughts
APPENDICES
Appendix A: Key Details
Appendix B: List of References
Endnotes

Reviews

'A swift, compelling read. Thorough and scholarly without the faintest whiff of academic stuffiness, Stevie Simkin's study of Straw Dogs summons up the turmoil of the 1960s and 70s and illuminates the highly charged subject of sexual violence on film' - Stephen Farber, Film Critic, The Hollywood Reporter
"fascinating stuff, written in a way that thankfully avoids too much media studies pomposity and instead takes a straightforward, very readable approach to the story. ... a fascinating account of the long and complex history of this difficult but brilliant film. If the remainder of the series are as impressively produced, then Controversies looks like being the essential book series of the year." - David Flint, strangethingsarehappening.com
"What first impresses about this book is its depth of research. There are lots of fascinating insights into production and revelations that make it a must for those interested in Peckinpah as a filmmaker. ... If you find Straw Dogs the film interesting, ... this comes highly recommended, and if you intend to go on to watch the remake, it's a must-read." - Jennie Kermode, eyeforfilm.co.uk
'Exceptionally well-written .... needs to be read by anyone interested in understanding Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs as a serious work of cinematic art.' - Garner Simmons, author of Peckinpah - A Portrait in Montage.
'Stevie Simkin, one of the Controversies series' co-editors (with Julian Petley), picks his way through this potential minefield with exceptional tact, skill and thoroughness...Anyone interested in teaching on the film, as Simkin has over many years (experience which has surely enriched his understanding of it), will find this monograph an invaluable resource and an instructive model of contextual and textual analysis.' - British Universities Film and Video Council
'Both books throw out so many insights and new ideas concerning these two examples of cinéma maudites that they are studies valuable both to cinéastes and students of the way in which popular culture works. This is proving to be a most valuable series.' - Crime Time, on Straw Dogs and A Clockwork Orange
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