Something Wild opens
With both downtown New York creative subculture and Wall Street flourishing in the mid-1980s, the collision of straight, hardworking men charismatic, possibly decadent women with bohemian lifestyles was a popular theme. There was Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, John Landis’s Into the Night, and, opening November 7, 1986, Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild. Jeff Daniels plays an uptight banker who cuts loose when he is “kidnapped” on a countercultural joyride with the enjoyably kooky, black-bobbed Lulu (Melanie Griffith). They two wind up playing husband and wife at her high-school reunion (a narrative device that would recur in countless movies following), and Ray Liotta provides some third-act bloodshed with his appearance as Lulu’s ex-con ex. The film is full of cameos from directors (John Sayles, John Waters), downtown scenesters (the designer Adelle Lutz), and musicians (The Feelies). Wrote Dave Kehr for the Chicago Tribune, “It has wit, originality, color, warmth and formal intelligence. It tempers its escapist dash with a touch of darkness, and for all of its playfulness, never departs from a fundamental seriousness.... Something Wild is superbly unpredictable.” The film wasn’t a huge hit — in the States it grossed just over $8 million — but the influence of this ’80 sub-genre exists in both independent and studio film to this day.