Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild from 1986 is one of the best movies of the 1980s. Demme died recently and was working pretty much up to the end. He’d had a great career that started in low budget exploitation pictures and finished with Oscars for Silence of the Lambs, but he never made a better movie than Something Wild.
This is also the film where Ray Liotta announced himself as Henry Hill in waiting and cinematographer Tak Fujimoto hit on a style and look that would influence thousands of other filmmakers for generations to come.
Demme had an eye and an ear for life that most other directors never get near to, he’s served well by the Oscar nominated screenplay by E.Max Frye. Melanie Griffith is lovely and real in the film, and her mix of minx and good girl with a child’s voice suddenly makes her perfect for the part (a lot of people are hard on Griffith, but I think she’s a lot cleverer and aware of her affects than most people realise – she’s got at least three classic 80s films to her name, in this, Body Double and Working Girl – she can’t be that daft.)
Jeff Daniels is great as the everyman taken out of his comfort zone, and there’s a great gallery of Demme’s favourite actors – a stock company that served him well through the years.
As a script writer for hire I also watch it as a classic example of how a film can change mood suddenly. This is light and frothy to start with, but it gets dark and dangerous.
I remember seeing the trailer on some new release back on VHS in the 80s when I was a teenager. I watched the trailer and thought ‘wow’ that looks interesting. How right I was, the trailer I saw is below…
Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on firstname.lastname@example.org or hire him on Peopleperhour