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Something Wild - April 9
Posted: April 2nd, 2008, 2:40 pm
TCM is showing SOMETHING WILD (not the Jonathan Demme movie of the same name) on April 9 at 9:30am (EST).
If film has a correlative body of work to Antonin Artaud’s “Theatre of Cruelty,” and I’m convinced that it does (see, for example, Erich Von Stroheim, Carl Th. Dreyer, Nicholas Ray, Samuel Fuller, John Cassavetes), then SOMETHING WILD, directed by Jack Garfein, is a vital part of that body. Filmed in 1959 and released in 1961, the movie follows the struggle of a young woman (Carroll Baker) to escape from one reality – a vicious rape – only to find herself trapped in another with a controlling man (Ralph Meeker). This late film noir subverts our expectations and makes us question our notion of what constitutes love and a “happy ending” and whether either can ever exist. That Garfein was a survivor of Auschwitz and was married to Baker adds a further psychological dimension to this unsettling gem.
The movie was not a critical or box-office success, though one hopes it could now find an audience. The cinematographer is Eugen Schufftan, who also was the cinematographer for THE HUSTLER (1961). The music was composed for the film by Aaron Copland. Jean Stapleton and William Hickey appear early in their careers, and Doris Roberts and Diane Ladd make their first movie appearances. SOMETHING WILD and Garfein’s only other movie, THE STRANGE ONE, starring Ben Gazzara, are not available on DVD.
The only time that I have seen the movie was in a Facets class, “Declaration of Independence,” conducted (and orchestrated) by Herr Professor (and SSO member) brandonlinden – so if I mucked this up, I have to retake the class. The class was so good that SOMETHING WILD was arguably the least of the movies. The others: SHADOWS (Cassavetes), THE SAVAGE EYE (Strick, Maddow, Meyers), THE WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER (Carey), THE PLOT AGAINST HARRY (Roemer), and (my favorite – yes, over Timothy Carey’s movie) WANDA (Loden).
Posted: April 2nd, 2008, 3:19 pm
Thanks for the heads-up on this one, ChiO; it's always been a film I've wanted to see. The only other feature from this director (Jack Garfein) is THE STRANGE ONE, one of my favorites from the 50s. I'm buffing up the recorder as we speak!
Posted: April 2nd, 2008, 4:11 pm
And thank you, Dewey, for ever so subtly pointing out that I mixed THE SAVAGE EYE with THE STRANGE ONE to come up with THE SAVAGE ONE, which I have now corrected in the original post.
Posted: April 2nd, 2008, 4:27 pm
Thank you for the shout out ChiO!
What fascinates me about the film is the way it forms a sort of phantom biography of the director who's experiences as a child who survived Aushwitz, and who's parents did not. As a film it says fascinating things how the powerless sometimes ingratiate themselves in that role of "victim". For a movie that starts with a rape, it ends up in places you would not ness. see for a 1961 movie, I think it would still be pretty transgressive today actually.
I also want to point out the excellent Aaron Copland score. Morton Feldman wrote the original but it was scraped as "too romantic" (Feldman, that old smoothie!). The movie also stars Carrol Baker who was Garfien's wife at the time (after the film you could understand the divorce), and Ralph Meeker gives a shaded and troubling performance as well. (Not to mention Jean Stapleton as a floozy (You go Edith!) and a young Doris Roberts.
The original title for the film was "Something Wild in the City" and NY offers a sort of third character to the film and how it infects the psyches of our two protagonists.
Another one that has never been put on DVD
Dewey, I am glad you pointed out "The Strange One" which really lives up to it's title and an excellent Ben Gazzara performance. now i want to see that again too!
Posted: April 3rd, 2008, 6:24 am
Never seen it, but will be recording. Thanks guys.
Anxious to see this movie too!/The Strange One
Posted: April 16th, 2008, 8:17 am
Being a classic movie fan as well as a cult movie and classical music fan, I was very happy to see that this movie was to be shown on TCM. I recorded it, but have not had time to watch the whole thing because of time contraints (thanks, though for video tape!). I watched about 35 minutes of it and was certainly taken in by it. It doesn't take very long for it to get going unlike other movies where the road to satisfaction is the end of it. I look forward to watching the rest of it. The movie seems to need some restoring, though. The soundtrack seemed somewhat on overload. I taped The Strange One on TCM when they had the "Celluloid Closet" month which was most interesting. I didn't realize until now that that was the same director. Also Carol Baker being in it reminded me of Baby Doll, which is the only film other than this that I know of with her init. And Ralph Meeker, being in other movies such as "Kiss Me Deadly", "The Detective" and "The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown". Thanks be to TCM for such wonderful movies!
Posted: April 16th, 2008, 9:08 am
Welcome to the Oasis! It sounds like you'll fit right in with the interests of so many of us here. Enjoy your visits and I'll see you around the boards.
Good to see Boris!
Posted: April 20th, 2008, 10:58 am
Thanks for the great welcome! Looking forward to it!
Re: Something Wild - April 9
Posted: March 26th, 2009, 12:08 pm
Resurrecting an old thread because: (a) TCM is showing SOMETHING WILD on May 8 at 1 p.m. (EST), and (b) I finally saw THE STRANGE ONE (1957), Jack Garfein's first of only two movies, last night.
Seldom has a title been more fitting for a movie. The film focuses on the interaction of a group of cadets at a military college. Jocko (Ben Gazzara in his film debut) is an intimidating, sadistic con-man; Koble (Pat Hingle with his first screen credit; curiously, his first screen appearance was as a character named Jocko in ON THE WATERFRONT), is Jocko's roommate and ambivalent participant in Jocko's cruelty; Simmons (Arthur Storch in his screen debut), is a teetotalling freshman who professes to be religious, but who is a coward afraid to put his words into action; Marquales (George Peppard in his screen debut) is Simmons' roommate who is accused by Simmons to be a hypocrite for not standing up to Jocko; and, Cockroach (Paul E. Richards in his only screen appearance) is the barely closeted creative writer carrying a torch for Jocko. The narrative centers on Jocko's organization of Koble, Simmons, Marquales and another character to create the opportunity to get a prominent cadet, who the previous year had crossed Jocko, kicked out of college and the subsequent cover-up when he is expelled. Those four each talk about how they should report Jocko's activities to the administration, but don't for fear of Jocko's retaliation and for fear that to report would be an admission of their own guilt, which would result in their expulsion. Cockroach, who hadn't participated, but who surreptitiously witnessed it, flaunts his knowledge to Jocko through his reading of his pseudo-fiction about it, implicitly threatening exposure unless Jocko returns his love. Marquales finally takes the step of organizing the college's cadets to take matters into their own hands to deal with Jocko.
As each character appears, one thinks that he is "the strange one" because of his clear personality flaws, with the possible exception of Marquales. Then one realizes that Garfein is saying that Marquales is "the strange one" because he is the one with the courage to confront the sadist. The subtext is clear: society is a prison (the opening shot of the school's barred gate closing; each room having a cell door; claustrophobic sets) and will be Hell unless those with the courage to risk their lives take action to defeat an oppressor. It is also clear that Garfein is exorcising his demons from his family's internment at, and his survival of, Auschwitz.
Fascinating (at least to me) highlight: As Jocko is about to get his comeuppance, he is screaming, "Don't kill me! I don't want to die!", or words to that effect. Very reminiscent of a future Cassavetes comrade's final scene in PATHS OF GLORY. Both movies were released in 1957.
Re: Something Wild - April 9
Posted: March 26th, 2009, 12:47 pm
Chi-O said: Cockroach (Paul E. Richards in his only screen appearance) is the barely closeted creative writer carrying a torch for Jocko.
Chi-O-O-O, not to be a quibbler, but I can't let the reputation of a good character actor be tarnished.
Paul E. Richards was in quite a few movies, and lots and lots of television, generally using the name Paul Richards. He was a drug pusher in Monkey on My Back, and he was in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, where he was, I believe the leader of the mutants in the mutant church congregation. He had small parts in many other films. On TV he was one of the familiar faces you couldn't put a name to in westerns, police dramas and drama anthologies. He was also reputedly the first character arrested on Hawaii Five-O to prompt Steve McGarrett to say "Book him, Dan-O!" Richards passed away some time in the mid-1970s; he was only about 50.
Re: Something Wild - April 9
Posted: March 26th, 2009, 1:31 pm
I plead for mercy...I think. I checked only IMDb (shame on me!) and it lists only THE STRANGE ONE (and an appearance as "Himself" in The Celluloid Closet). Subsequently checking Turner, it listed one other movie. But there are many "Paul Richards". If this is the guy who was in MONKEY ON MY BACK (preparation for BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES?), that happens to be one of the de Toth movies I've been wanting to see (unless there's another de Toth).
Re: Something Wild - April 9
Posted: March 26th, 2009, 2:28 pm
Thanks for bringing this up to the top. I hardly ever look more than a week ahead because, every time I do, some is knocked off for rescheduling. "The Jinx Syndrome" keeps me from looking more than a few days ahead, therefore.
This film is upsetting to me. It's a rape-victim film, it's a battered woman film, always presented in this male-fantasy "I only love you SO much, that's why I'm doing this" kind of way.
Or so it seems. As these scenes unfold, this is what I kept thinking. But the story's more complicated than this simplicity, and it's a film that's stayed with me for years. I'm glad TCM's getting ready to re-show it.
Re: Something Wild - April 9
Posted: February 11th, 2012, 10:55 am
I enjoyed Something Wild, if that's the right word to describe this kind of movie, the opening scenes are quite disturbing and the first half hour feels very claustrophobic in terms of Baker's suffering, which only gets worse as she tries to deal with what has happened to her, she doesn't fit anywhere anymore, not in college, certainly not in her mother's very prejudiced world and not in the bitchy world of the five and ten. She attempts suicide but is stopped by Ralph Meeker, a nice genuine guy who cares for her, he's another social misfit who plunges her into another world of uncertainty and fear. I feel I can't say anymore for spoiling the film for someone else. From a woman's point of view I wasn't uncomfortable watching it or dealing with the subject matter I can put on my rose coloured spectacles and appreciate it for it's unusual twists and turns.