United Artists

Something Wild

Something Wild

2.5 out of 52.5 out of 52.5 out of 52.5 out of 5 2.5

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An obscure blast from the past, Something Wild is a narrative precursor to Roman Polanski’s Repulsion. Oddly, it was also made by a Holocaust survivor: Czech-born Jack Garfein, who cast then-wife Carroll Baker as a blonde who goes mad after being raped on her way home from school. The opening title sequence by Saul Bass is a perverse explosion of geometric images and graphic matches that announces the hustle-and-bustle of a scorching New York City day, the sun hanging from the sky like a sunnyside-up egg. This inspired madness carries over to much of the film, which tiptoes alongside its main character as if afraid of the dark. When a paper cup crosses the shadow cast by a hanging chain, Mary Ann (Baker) is sucked into the bushes by a sweaty rapist, and after thrashing her way home, the girl will negotiate her parents’ creaky staircase as if it were a slide, locking herself in the bathroom in order to slice her clothing and flush the bits down the toilet. On her back, a symbol: a bruise in the shape of a forked stick. Cue Mary Anne’s obsession with water, which proves to be a salve for nothing—certainly not the multi-culti “dirt” her batshit-crazy mother (Mildred Dunnock) squawks about. A melo-noir with wildly campy outbursts, Something Wild turns serious and collapses on its delicious self after the James Joyce-reading Mary Anne gets a job at a five-and-dime and moves into an apartment next door to Edith Bunker. When she tries to jump from a bridge, Creepy meets Creepier (Ralph Meeker), who takes her back to his apartment and locks her inside. The drama that ensues not only suggests a deleted provocation from Arthur Miller’s A View from a Bridge but also constitutes a feminist nightmare. Thankfully, the sight of a drunken Jean Stapleton drenching a barely-legal fuck toy in liquor is a much easier sight to wrap your head around.

United Artists
112 min
Jack Garfein
Jack Garfein, Alex Karmel
Carroll Baker, Ralph Meeker, Mildred Dunnock, Jean Stapleton, Martin Kosleck, Charles Watts, Clifton James, George L. Smith, Doris Roberts, Ken Chapin, Ginny Baker, Tanya Lopert