The Savage Eye
Introduced by guest curator Imogen Sara Smith
Dirs. Ben Maddow, Sidney Meyers, Joseph Strick. 1960, 68 mins. 35mm print preserved by the Academy Film Archive. With Barbara Baxley, Gary Merrill. This independently produced documentary-fiction hybrid is not strictly film noir, but its penetrating study of urban alienation draws from the same well of midcentury anomie. Among the film’s creators were blacklisted screenwriter/poet Ben Maddow and peerless street photographer Helen Levitt. A newly divorced woman arrives in Los Angeles alone, retreating from life. Through her eyes and her stylized interior monologue we experience a phantasmagoric vision of the city: freeways, hotel rooms, bars, strippers, wrestlers, faith-healers, transvestites, beauty parlors, bingo parlors, car accidents, hospitals. Yet in this tawdry, desperate place the woman ultimately finds renewal and healing through connections with strangers.
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