Southern Comfort

Southern Comfort

4.6 3
Director: Walter Hill

Cast: Keith Carradine, Powers Boothe, Fred Ward

     
 

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A handful of part time soldiers unwittingly turn a field exercise into a miniature war in this offbeat action drama from writer and director Walter Hill. A group of National Guard reservists are sent to Louisiana on a chilly weekend for war games exercises. None of these weekend warriors seem especially happy to be there, especially laid-back Spencer (Keith Carradine)…  See more details below

Overview

A handful of part time soldiers unwittingly turn a field exercise into a miniature war in this offbeat action drama from writer and director Walter Hill. A group of National Guard reservists are sent to Louisiana on a chilly weekend for war games exercises. None of these weekend warriors seem especially happy to be there, especially laid-back Spencer (Keith Carradine), tightly-wound macho man Reece (Fred Ward) and transplanted Texan Hardin (Powers Booth). While making their way through swamp country, the reservists discover their maps are out of date and they've become lost. Rather than march back to camp and start over, they decide to "borrow" several canoes they've found by the banks of the bayou, which should put them back on track. When a Cajun local catches the soldiers stealing his canoes, Stuckey (Lewis Smith) fires a few rounds in his direction; for the purposes of their exercises, the Guardsmen have been given blank shells, so Stuckey imagines this is a harmless way to scare the man off. However, the Cajun soon returns fire -- with real bullets. After Poole (Peter Coyote) is killed by a shotgun blast, the Guardsmen find themselves lost in a place they do not understand, surrounded by angry men determined to drive the unwelcome visitors off their land at all costs. A taut and atmospheric action film which is also serves as an intelligent and evocative metaphor for America's role in the Vietnam war, Southern Comfort also features an excellent score by guitarist (and frequent Walter Hill collaborator) Ry Cooder.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Michael Costello
Walter Hill's low-key film about a National Guard detachment that runs into trouble in Cajun swamplands is a much underrated, quietly disturbing thriller. Seemingly another Hill film about men being men -- in fact there isn't a woman in sight -- it's actually a biting critique of macho behavior as well as a haunting Vietnam allegory. While on a training exercise deep in Louisiana bayou country, some of the buffoonish part-time warriors steal some Cajun pirogues, triggering a far more devastating response than they had anticipated. As the apparently invisible locals begin picking them off one by one, their frantic attempt to escape takes them ever farther into territory that their predators know much better than they. Although the film has overtones of Deliverance, the director implies that it's not nature, but the arrogance and stupidity of its characters that have sealed their fate. As the sanest of the guardsmen, Powers Boothe and Keith Carradine do solid work, and Peter Coyote also makes his presence felt during his brief screen time. Hill seems to have banned the sun during shooting, and cameraman Andrew Laszlo employs a palette of dank greens, grays, and browns to create an ambiance of feral menace.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/08/2014
UPC:
0826663150704
Original Release:
1981
Rating:
R
Source:
Shout Factory
Region Code:
1A
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
1:45:00
Sales rank:
9,258

Special Features

New interviews with Powers Boothe, Keith Carradine, Lewis Smith, director Walter Hill and more...; Outtakes; Theatrical trailer

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Keith Carradine Spencer
Powers Boothe Hardin
Fred Ward Reece
Franklyn Seales Simms
T.K. Carter Cribbs
Lewis Smith Stuckey
Les Lannom Casper
Peter Coyote Poole
Alan Autry Bowden
Brion James Trapper
Sonny Landham Hunter
Ned Dowd Hunter
Rob Ryder Hunter
Alan Lee Graf Actor
Marc Savoy Cajun Musician
Dewey Balfa Cajun Musician
Greg Guirard Cajun

Technical Credits
Walter Hill Director,Screenwriter
Glenn Anderson Sound/Sound Designer
Ry Cooder Score Composer
Freeman Davies Editor
David Giler Producer,Screenwriter
Michael Kane Screenwriter
Pat Kehoe Asst. Director
Andrew Laszlo Cinematographer
Tony Romero Sound/Sound Designer
John Vallone Production Designer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Southern Comfort
1. Chapter 1 [10:55]
2. Chapter 2 [11:47]
3. Chapter 3 [6:18]
4. Chapter 4 [8:43]
5. Chapter 5 [3:13]
6. Chapter 6 [9:47]
7. Chapter 7 [10:42]
8. Chapter 8 [6:30]
9. Chapter 9 [9:12]
10. Chapter 10 [7:42]
11. Chapter 11 [4:25]
12. Chapter 12 [8:07]
13. Chapter 13 [8:24]

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Southern Comfort 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's 1973, the American war in Viet Nam is just a couple years from its ignominious close, and a group of weekend soldiers from the Louisiana National Guard enters a bayou wilderness to conduct a training exercise. They quickly demonstrate their incompetence and disrespect, provoking the Cajun inhabitants of this insular region with fatal results. The film's symbolic transfer of America's role in the RVN to the remote backwaters of Louisiana is heavy-handed and predictable, but Walter Hill's attention to setting, dialogue, and detail is masterful. The soldiers are stereotypes and even archetypes, but so well done that they are disturbingly real. We have all known guys like this. Most of these men aren't really malicious (the exception being the character played by tough-guy Fred Ward, who found a moment of cinematic fame as Remo Williams). These weekend warriors are just thoughtless and inexperienced, and they pay a heavy price. They have no live ammo, only blanks. The have no sleeping bags, no swamp gear, and just enough rations for a couple days. The squad's NCO, the only professional soldier and navigator, is the first to die (impersonally shot in the head at long range by a Cajun with a heavy rifle). This shocking event leaves the men leaderless and adrift in an environment where the opposition is rarely seen, terrorizes at will, and kills with impunity. The squad splashes interminably through dense swamps of tall cypress, filled with bird calls and insect hum, the natural beauty contrasting sharply with the ever-present fear of mayhem and death. The film's conclusion brings the squad's two survivors to a Cajun hamlet, where they are treated with warmth and hospitality by one group while the bad guys glide up by pirogue to finish the job. By themselves, the hamlet scenes are a wonderfully authentic and uncontrived look at a real Cajun fais do-do, a party and dance. Those two hogs are really shot and butchered. A huge basket of mudbugs comes up steaming from a wood-fired kettle. That's a real zydeco band, and those people sure look like they're having real fun, which dramatically adds to the tension as the two Guardsmen (Powers Boothe and Keith Carradine) face the final desperate fight. Look for Sonny Landham (Billy in 'Predator') and Brion James (the replicant Leon in 'Blade Runner') as Cajun hunters. The soundtrack is by Ry Cooder, the veteran guitarist, sideman, and arranger who produced 'The Buena Vista Social Club' CD. Is the music good? One of the best, I guarantee.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Largely an off-beat but lively metaphor for America's quagmire in Vietnam, Southern Comfort has many stereotypes of the U.S. Military: the inexpienced but overly ambitious second lietuenant, the poor struggling black man who was forced into the military because he had no choice, a laidback redneck who is all-knowing of the functions, a very disturbed captain, a tough quiet, and very brutal private, and some some very stupid and hung-up rednecks. Over simplified for the military, but I know many people like that in the military. Like the Vietcong, the Cajuns are an able enemy without being seen, heard, attacks when it wants too and leaves when it doesn't it. In the tradition of the Deliverance.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The narration of the trailer for this movie describes the Cajuns as "a group of misunderstodd Americans." From reading the two previous reviews, it appears that Southern Comfort is a misunderstood movie as well. For one thing, there were no officers such as Captains or Lieutenants in the movie. Just a squad led by a Sergeant aided by a Corporal. One by one, the guardsmen, composed of clueless urban types, fall casualty, largely through their own weaknesses. The Sergeant is killed by gunshot to his head after ordering the men to take off their helmets when boarding the boats they "borrow" from the Cajuns a young black private (Who openly boasts about his livelihood of selling drugs to schoolkids) blunders into a trap a bully is killed by provoking a fight on another guardsman and so on. The guardsmen who survive do so by displaying better judgement, courage and common sense than their dceased comrades.