Controversial for its disturbing depiction of male aggression and sexual violence, Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 suspense film Straw Dogs plays out with all the brutality of the westerns for which the director is most famous, though it takes place very far from the frontier. Set in Cornwall, England, the film tells the story of a noncommittal American mathematician (Dustin Hoffman) who has just moved with his wife (Susan George) back to the town where she grew up—a place where they fail to find the peace and quiet they seek, as they both face increasingly menacing threats from a number of men working on their property. In the clip below, taken from a supplemental piece on our new edition of the movie, film scholar Linda Williams examines how Alfred Hitchcock’s horror landmark Psycho paved the way for Straw Dogs’ intermingling of sex and violence, and discusses her own “conflicted response” to Peckinpah’s masterful and discomfiting work.
Memories of a Martial-Arts Master
In this outtake from an interview with Shangkuan Ling-fung, the Taiwanese wuxia icon gets nostalgic about her encounters with Bruce Lee.
How Ron Shelton Did Justice to the “Talking Sport”
The director of Bull Durham explains the ins and outs of bringing baseball to the screen and why Kevin Costner is the finest athletic actor he’s worked with.
The Birth of a Hollywood Bad Girl
The product of consummate artistry and savvy promotion, Marlene Dietrich’s salacious image opened up erotic frontiers for a generation of moviegoers.
The Hope That Fueled Bowling for Columbine
How much can a film turn the tide on American violence? Michael Moore and archivist Carl Deal reflect on the moral urgency that gave rise to one of the most talked-about documentaries of all time.