The Savage Eye


Dir. , Ben Maddow, Sidney Meyers, 35mm B/W Sound 01:07:00

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The Savage Eye is fixed on the seamy side of Los Angeles as experienced by a young divorcee (Barbara Baxley) as she struggles to accept and finally affirm her life. There is no dialogue in the film, but rather a stream-of-consciousness repartee between the woman and the voice of a poet (Gary Merrill), her conscience. Mixing documentary with fantasy, brazen social realism with cold expressionism, The Savage Eye is a major precursor to the direct cinema (cinema verité) movement, whose exponent, Jonas Mekas, has called the film "a tour-de-force lesson in camera-eye technique." It received wide critical acclaim on its release, and is an important early work by cinematographer Haskell Wexler and the three independent filmmakers—Ben Maddow, Sidney Meyers, and Joseph Strick—who produced the film over a period of five years. Ironically, contemporary reviews looked to the future impact of this film which has fallen into virtual obscurity today: "A film that will be seen for many a year no matter who rejects it now" (New York Post); "A rich vein of source material for any future historian of our times" (New York Herald Tribune).
[Source: Pacific Film Archive Screening Notes]

Other Credits

Other crew: Joel Coleman, Jack Couffer, Verna Fields, Irving Lerner, Helen Levitt, Haskell Wexler, Sy Wexler