Southern Comfort (1981)

Southern Comfort (1981)

Taglines: The bayou has its own law… and they just broke it.

A squad of National Guards on an isolated weekend exercise in the Louisiana swamp must fight for their lives when they anger local Cajuns by stealing their canoes. Without live ammunition and in a strange country, their experience begins to mirror the Vietnam experience.

Southern Comfort is a 1981 American action/thriller film directed by Walter Hill and written by Michael Kane, and Hill and his longtime collaborator David Giler. It stars Keith Carradine, Powers Boothe, Fred Ward, T. K. Carter, Franklyn Seales, and Peter Coyote. The film, set in 1973, features a Louisiana Army National Guard squad of nine on weekend maneuvers in rural bayou country as they antagonize some local Cajun people and become hunted.

About the Story

A squad of nine Louisiana National Guard soldiers convene in a local bayou for weekend maneuvers. New to the squad is Corporal Hardin (Boothe), a cynical transfer from the Texas National Guard. He soon becomes disgusted with the arrogant behavior and attitudes of the men. A happily-married engineer in his civilian life, Hardin wants no part of a date with prostitutes which PFC Spencer (Carradine) has arranged for himself and their squad-mates. Nevertheless, he hits it off with the amiable Spencer; both find themselves to be the most level-headed soldiers in their squad.

The nine soldiers set out on patrol and soon get lost in the swamp. They come across a seemingly-abandoned campsite with several pirogues. To continue onward, the NGs will need the pirogues; otherwise, they will need to turn back. The squad’s leader, Staff Sergeant Poole (Peter Coyote), orders the soldiers into three of the pirogues. As they set out and ride across the bayou, a group of Cajun hunter-trappers return and yell at the soldiers for having taken their pirogues. In response, as a practical joke, PFC Stuckey fires blanks from his M-60 machine gun at the Cajuns. They return fire, killing Poole, and sending the squad into a frenzy as they make their way toward cover.

Sgt. Casper (Les Lannom) – the strict, inexperienced, and unpopular second-in-command – orders the squad to continue their “mission.” They discover that Cpl. Reece (Ward) has brought along a box of live ammunition for hunting purposes. Casper divides the ammo evenly among the soldiers, in order to bolster their chances of defense. They reach the shack of a one-armed Cajun trapper-hunter (Brion James), who speaks only French. Casper has him arrested as a POW. The emotionally-unstable Cpl. Bowden (Carlos Brown) uses gasoline to ignite some TNT inside the shack, blowing it up.

Southern Comfort Movie Poster (1981)

Southern Comfort (1981)

Directed by: Walter Hill
Starring: Keith Carradine, Powers Boothe, Fred Ward, Franklyn Seales, Lewis Smith, Les Lannom, Peter Coyote, Alan Autry
Screenplay by: Michael Kane, Walter Hill
Production Design by: John Vallone
Cinematography by: Andrew Laszlo
Film Editing by: Freeman A. Davies
Set Decoration by: Robert Gould
Music by: Ry Cooder
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: September 25, 1981