. . . Something Wild

. . .

Movie Comment: Something Wild, 1961, with Carroll Baker and Ralph Meeker

Mr. Maltin calls this film "bizarre," but that's just plain wrong. It's actually pretty fucking bizarre, starting like a film noir Ms. 45 ("She couldn't say 'NO' ... She couldn't say anything!" reads the tagline) and ending like a Roman Polanski Moonstruck.

The cast and the Sanitation-Department-less New York location shooting prepared me for a Kazan-Lumet snorefest. What I got instead was the sole American representative of Rossellini-and-early-Fellini-style Neorealism, complete with ritual degradation of the director's wife. Not that the direction's as good as Rossellini or Fellini; in fact, it's kind of rotten. But it's American! (You know it must be 'cause Aaron Copland did the score.) It's New York! It's Carroll Baker! Ralph Meeker (whose character must've picked up a copy of "How to Brainwash Girls" during his stint in Korea)! And Jean Stapleton! And that's gotta beat good direction.

Almost just as well, since "good direction" might have ruined the Euro-trashier delights of the movie. Like the Bergman-does-Tobacco-Road scene where Ralph Meeker crawls slowly moaning, more slug than dog, towards stock-still Carroll Baker, grabs her ankles, gets pushed away, does it again, gets pushed away, does it again, and gets kicked in the eye! Boy, then do we hear some moaning. Blood comes pouring out.... And the tiny horrible apartments and feverishly icky sadistic voyeurism put those Italian comparisons of mine into a sweatbox till they shrivel to more like Polanski. Which makes a feverish icky kind of sense, since the director is an Auschwitz survivor....

Plot: Take a downtrodden girl and just keep treading harder.

Moral: If you love something, lock it in a cage in the basement for six months and then let it go.

Cinematography: What C.H.U.D. should've looked like. (In that same year of 1961, the same cinematographer shot The Hustler. 1961, Eugen Schüfftan, grotesquely sharp black-and-white, and tortured neurotic ladies will forever slumber limbs-a-tangle in my mind.) (And two years earlier, as if stocking up against Ralph Meeker's later shortage, Schüfftan had shot Eyes Without a Face.) (And thirty-one years earlier, he'd shot People on Sunday, and here I boggle past speech.)

. . .

Hanging with Scissors Errata

Golly! The congratulatory telegrams have been splashing in till we're pert near overcome by the sour reek of human kindness!

For example, here a well-wisher writes:

Bless you, my child.

Another raves:

I thought Missouri was in the south?
America's heartland is ambiguously situated between America's breadbasket and America's dark underbelly. (That ain't anatomy, but ain't that America?) Our heritage may be slavery and hillbillies, and Ashcroft our gift to the future, but summer tornadoes and winter blizzards make plain to even the casual vistor why central Missouri's greatest growth industries were railroads and railroad stations.

Under the headline "time enough," michael griffin forwards show-biz news that stays news:

forever bingo
A film by Ron Howard, with James Cromwell as The Farmer.

The nameless kid with one Converse sneaker has come clean [in-joke] as Chris Sullivan:

That's me Mr. Calkins! I didn't mean to truncate! That little window, I got lost in.

Okay: I wonder if you might visit my INJUN (InterNet Journal Underway Now) {I have approval from Zig Jackson to use this term}

In fact, I had already visited it with pleasure several times the week before receiving this message. It's a small, small world. (As measured by poet blogrolls, anyway.)

Along those lines, lineman for the county nick popadiuk pledges:

thank you for making kit smarts jubalate agno available.....i will include an excerpt in my "Lunatick's Anthology" which of course will never be published because it would alter the foundation of western literature and culture forever......
And Karl Rackwitz remarks:
I've read your comments about the movie "Something Wild". They are as interesting as the whole site, but I want to note that I love Sidney Lumet's films and wouldn't call them snorefests. I know I shouldn't read too much into this remark of yours, which was probably meant to be only half-serious. But Lumet is, despite his failures, one of the great American directors of the last fifty years. (I've written a little biography, if you're interested.)
I was interested in Karl's essay, and Karl's essay in turn has made me interested in Running on Empty. Which just goes to show that anything is possible. You know what I mean?

I mean if only the whole world could be like two guys exchanging polite email in English about Sidney Lumet, then there would be no more war.

At least until they stopped.


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Public domain work remains in the public domain.
All other material: Copyright 2015 Ray Davis.