The Edmondson Blog

Dueling Banjos

Dueling Banjos played by Billy Redden on banjo and Ronny Cox on guitar from the 1972 film Deliverance.

Redden was then sixteen. To add authenticity to the film, the filmmakers needed Redden to fit the look of the inbred and mentally retarded banjo boy called for by the original book, although Redden himself is neither. His distinctive look was enhanced using special makeup. Redden could not actually play the banjo. A musician reached around from behind Redden which was disguised using careful camera angles.

In 2003, Tim Burton searched out Redden, who hadn't appeared in a film since Deliverance, and he appeared in the film Big Fish. Burton was intent on getting Redden to play the role of a banjo-playing welcomer in the utopian town of Spectre. Burton eventually found him in Clayton, Georgia, where he is part-owner of the Cookie Jar Café.

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