Susan George in one of the provocative scenes from Sam Peckinpah's original film.
Hoffman and Peckinpah on the set of the 1971 film.
By Lee Pfeiffer
More proof of how devoid Hollywood is when it comes to original ideas. The rumor we reported many months ago is apparently going to become a reality.Not only will Screen Gems remake Sam Peckinpah's 1971 classic Straw Dogs, but the story will be completely Americanized. This is sure to set off more fireworks between England and the USA than that little dust-up between us that took place around 1776. In Peckinpah's original, based on the novel The Siege at Trencher's Farm, Dustin Hoffman and Susan George played a young city couple who resettle to a small cottage in a quaint British village. They soon finds themselves terrorized by clannish locals. The wife is raped and the husband, a mild man by nature, finds himself in a brutal battle to protect his property and his dignity. The film caused a great deal of controversy at the time due to its depiction of violence and sex - and the debatable observation that the Susan George character encourages and enjoys rape. James Marsden will star in the new version, directed by Rod Lurie. The story will find the couple resettling from Hollywood to the American south (yawn), where the mayhem will occur. What made the original so compelling was Peckinpah's ability to make an outwardly charming country village seem like a strange and terrifying place. The British locations were essential in establishing why the Hoffman character, an American ex-pat, feels so completely out of place. Keeping the locations in the remake restricted to American soil undermines the very premise. Filming on the remake begins in August. It's appropriate that Screen Gems will front this project. After all, they gave us those Three Stooges films for years. For more on the remake click here
(For a review of author Jeff Slater's excellent Peckinpah biography, Entered His House Justified, click here)