Los Angeles at the end of the 1950s. A city of the future, where a young divorcée named Judith is trying to break free of her past. She seeks refuge in shops, casinos, strip clubs, the church and the boxing ring. A male voice-over (her conscience? her subconscious?) questions her actions. What is she actually doing all day? Nothing. What is she thinking about? Nothing.
The Savage Eye is an experimental hybrid between fiction and documentary, portraying urban life as both a nightmare and a release. The poetic text sometimes contrasts with intriguing, neutral footage. When it was released in 1960, The Savage Eye was seen as an important example of cinema verité. Filmmakers Sidney Meyers, Ben Maddow and Joseph Strick worked on the film for a full four years in their free time. There’s an important role for music, performed by a brass ensemble and composed by Leonard Rosenman, who went on to write scores for films such as Barry Lyndon (1975) and Sybil (1976). The 35mm print of The Savage Eye is preserved by the Academy Film Archive.