215. Southern Comfort (US 1981)

Director: Walter Hill

Starring: Keith Carradine; Powers Boothe; Fred Ward: Les Lannom; Peter Coyote

Cinematography: Andrew Laslo

Horrible Music: Ry Cooder

FACT: The film's title had to be 'licenced' from its sugary whisky company namesake.

LIE: Powers Boothe took his stage name from his favourite Irish whiskey and his favourite seventies' racist UK sitcom character.

A squad of National Guardsmen are hunted down by hostile Cajuns.

Walter Hill's second entry on 'the list' (as only I know and refer to it) following his 'entry' (more later) with 'The Warriors'. Walter makes 'blokes' films. Film with real men for real men. Films featuring ensemble casts of men. The sort of films that the 'guys' at Uncut magazine spray their collective shorts over because they think that not featuring films with women in them will make them seem more masculine and less suspect (whereas of course, the opposite effect is achieved by such 'macho' selections). I'm so secure in my own sexuality that I'm definitely 'doing' Pretty in Pink' as the next film on the website with the 'selective appeal'.

Out on manoeuvres in the Bayou region of Louisiana, a group of National Guard find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. The National Guard is the American equivalent of the UK's TA, but nowhere near as glamorous.

Lance Corporal Kevin 'Corky' Tomlinson of the North Staffs Volunteers: Stoke City season ticket holder and veteran of several 'milk races' held in Merseyside's Altcar training camp huts.

The group includes the cynical Spencer (Carradine, who along with Vanilla Ice, Dennis Rodman, Warren Beattie and Edward Sinclair - the verger from TV's Dads' Army,  and a man who by all accounts liked heads-down, no-nonsense 'nookie', but drew the line at bum sex- is one the handful of men to have 'fucked' pop star Madonna), brooding Texan Hardin (Boothe) and the aggressive, violent Reece (Ward).

Sinclair: 'drew the line' at 'bum sex'

The guardsmen make the fatal mistake of taking the Cajuns' boats and then by firing blanks at the locals. The Cajuns fight back and hunt down the virtually ammunition-free guardsmen, killing them off in ever more inventive ways.

At this point, it's obligatory to mention that the film has many allegorical 'nods' to the war in Vietnam and shares a number of thematic, narrative and visual links with Deliverance.

The guardsmen fight the Cajuns and squabble amongst themselves. This ends with the death of the ineffectual Sergeant Casper (the excellent Lannom) and a brutal knife fight between Hardin and Reece.

Two of the group reach a Cajun village, but the violence soon begins again..

Southern Comfort is a troublesome film. Its representation of the Cajuns is so determinedly sinister that accusations of stereotyping and racism are difficult to avoid. That said, the National Guardsmen are portrayed as such utter twats (Boothe excepted) that it's not too difficult to sympathise with the locals (the final twenty minutes excepted).

A typical Cajun in the film: crudely stereotyped as looking like a UK geography teacher

Great direction, great performances, ghastly music and only 5.99 on DVD!

8/10