David Sumner, a timid American mathematician and basketball player, leaves the chaos of college anti-war protests to live with his young wife, Amy, in her hometown of Wakely, a fictional village in Cornwall, England. Almost immediately, there is tension between the couple as David becomes immersed in his academic work and differing ideas regarding the nature of their relationship come to light: David wants the traditional division of tasks, with the man earning wages, and the wife satisfying his needs in the kitchen and bed. Amy wants greater participation from David if she is going to accept such a role: she wants him to perform all the traditionally male tasks, like fixing the toaster, but also to involve himself in her community.

Chris Cawsey, Norman Scutt, Riddaway, and Charlie Venner, Amy's ex-lover, are Wakely locals hired to renovate the Sumners' isolated farmhouse. They openly resent David for his intellectual pursuits, and persistently harass him. When Amy discovers their cat strangled and hanging by a light chain in their bedroom closet, Amy claims the workmen did it to intimidate David. She presses him to confront the villagers, but he refuses. David tries to win their friendship, and they invite him to go hunting in the woods the next day. During the trip, David is taken to a remote forest meadow and left there, after the workmen promise to drive the birds towards him. Having ditched David, Venner returns to the couple's farmhouse where he rapes Amy. Scutt arrives, forces Venner to hold Amy down, and rapes Amy as well.

After several hours, David realizes he's been tricked and returns home to find a disheveled and withdrawn Amy. She does not tell him about the rapes. The next day, David fires the workmen, claiming that they have performed poorly and wasted time. Later that week, the Sumners attend a church social where Amy becomes distraught after seeing the men who raped her. They leave the social early, and, while driving home through thick fog, accidentally hit the local village idiot Henry Niles, whom they take to their home. David phones the local pub about the accident. However, earlier that evening Niles had accidentally strangled a flirtatious young girl from the village, Janice Hedden, and now her father, the town drunkard, Tom, and the workmen looking for him are alerted by the phone call to Niles's whereabouts.

Soon the drunken locals, including Amy's rapists, are pounding on the door of the Sumners' home. After a few minutes of their breaking the windows and hammering on the door, the local magistrate, Major John Scott, arrives and after attempting to defuse the situation, is shot dead by Tom. At this point the father and the workmen agree that they cannot go back on what they have done, but only continue. David realizes that they will not allow anyone in the house to live and begins preparing to defend his home. First he heats two saucepans of cooking oil. Then, when one of the locals attempts to enter through the window, he ties his hands together at knife-point. As more men appear at another window, he scalds them with the boiling oil, temporarily incapacitating them. Then he lays down a large mantrap in his living room and sends Amy upstairs to hide.

When Tom and Cawsey enter and attempt to shoot David, he knocks the shotgun out of Tom's hands, causing it to fire and mangle the man's foot. He then engages in a fight with Cawsey, beating him to death with a [[fire poker]]. Finally, Charlie appears and holds David at gunpoint, but before he can shoot him, the two hear Amy screaming. As they both run upstairs, the fifth man, Scutt, is there. He tells Charlie to take David downstairs and kill him, so they can rape Amy again. Instead, Charlie shoots Scutt and David begins to fight Charlie. As they reach the living room, David, despite Amy's pleas not to, kills Charlie by springing the mantrap over his head, crushing his neck. As David looks at the carnage around him, he murmurs, "Jesus, I got 'em all." He is then attacked by Riddaway and, losing the struggle, asks Amy to fetch the shotgun and shoot him. Amy hesitates before retrieving the weapon and shooting Riddaway dead.

David is driving Niles to town when the latter turns and says, "I don't know my way home." David smiles and replies, "That's okay. I don't either."











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Directed by Sam Peckinpah
Produced by Daniel Melnick
Written by Sam Peckinpah
David Zelag Goodman
Starring Dustin Hoffman
Susan George
Music by Jerry Fielding
Distributed by Cinerama Releasing Corporation
Release date(s)

November 3, 1971 (UK)

December 29, 1971 (US)

Running time 117 mins.
Language English
Budget $2.2 million