The famous dueling banjos scene from the 1972 thriller film Deliverance. The film was shot on and around the Chattooga River in Rabun County, Georgia.
Deliverance, the 1972 dramatic thriller, features powerhouse performances from Ronnie Cox, Ned Beatty, Jon Voight, and particularly, Burt Reynolds.
In addition, actors Bill McKinney as Mountain Man and Herbert Coward as Toothless Man, remain two of the most frightening movie villains of all time.
One of the most famous scenes is “Dueling Banjos” which took place between Ronnie Cox’s character Drew and Billy Redden as Lonnie, a local inbred “mountain kid.” The two characters appear to use their banjo and guitar to communicate by playing this song.
The scene is amazing considering Redden didn’t play the banjo at all. The hands you see are actually the hands of a musician who is hidden behind him! Cox was hired because he played guitar. It was his first time in front of a movie camera though.
In 1973, the song skyrocketed to the top spot on the Billboard adult contemporary chart, number two on all-genre hot 100 charts and number five on the country chart. “Dueling Banjos” also won a Grammy that same year for best country and western instrumental performance.
It is almost impossible to hear “Dueling Banjos” without thinking of Deliverance. This performance helped bring bluegrass into the mainstream. It introduced many new people to this type of music.
The "Banjo kid" from "Deliverance", then & now: