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The Savage Eye

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Initial DVD release  October 10, 2000 (USA)
7.2/10 IMDb

Genre  Drama
Budget  65,000 USD
Country  USA
The Savage Eye movie poster

Director  Ben Maddow Sidney Meyers Joseph Strick
Release date  June 6, 1960
Writer  Ben Maddow, Sidney Meyers, Joseph Strick
Initial release  June 6, 1960 (New York City)
Directors  Joseph Strick, Ben Maddow, Sidney Meyers
Cast  Barbara Baxley (Judith McGuire), Gary Merrill (The poet), Herschel Bernardi (Kirk), Jean Hidey (Venus the Body), Elizabeth Zemach (The nurse)
Similar movies  Silent Hill, Trucker, Mark of the Devil, The Rapture, Simon of the Desert, Ten

Leonard rosenman music score from the savage eye 1960 film editing

The Savage Eye is a 1959 "dramatized documentary" film that superposes a dramatic narration of the life of a divorced woman with documentary camera footage of an unspecified 1950s city. The film was written, produced, directed, and edited by Ben Maddow, Sidney Meyers, and Joseph Strick, who did the work over several years on their weekends. The Savage Eye is often considered to be part of the cinema vérité movement of the 1950s and 1960s.


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The savage eye 1960 oh mama


In a 1960 review, A. H. Weiler characterized the film:

... it is from the photographic and sound-track concentration on the Hogarthian faces of Los Angeles that The Savage Eye derives most of its ferocity. The rabid wrestling-match audiences; the middle-aged and elderly ladies seeking improvement of gross bodies in beauty parlors; the sensuous writhings of Jean (Venus the Body) Hidey as she strips and teases in a burlesque joint, and, most effectively, the matter-of-fact faith healer who doles out wholesale blessings on the afflicted (done with a direct voice and sound track) are the most striking glints in The Savage Eye.

Benjamin Jackson has noted that Irving Lerner, Strick's collaborator on the earlier documentary Muscle Beach (1948), "was part of the original group, but left in the middle of production." The camera footage for the film was done over these years by the principal cinemaphotographers Haskell Wexler, Helen Levitt, and Jack Couffer; the sound editing for the film was one of Verna Fields' early credits. The film won the 1960 BAFTA Flaherty Documentary Award as well as several film festival prizes. Reviewing its debut at the 1959 Edinburgh Film Festival, the art critic David Sylvester called its imagery "sharp, intense, spectacular, and imaginative".

John Hagan has written further of the film's influence that: "One can see how, in its study of a woman whose marital problems have estranged her from the world, it anticipated, if not influenced, such films as The Misfits, Red Desert, and Juliet of the Spirits."

The Academy Film Archive preserved The Savage Eye in 2008.


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