Savages (1972 film)

Savages is a 1972 Merchant Ivory Film directed by James Ivory and screenplay by George W. S. Trow and Michael O'Donoghue, based on an idea by Ivory.

DVD cover
Directed byJames Ivory
Produced byIsmail Merchant
Joseph J.M. Saleh (executive)
Anthony Korner (associate)
Written byGeorge W. S. Trow
Michael O'Donoghue (based upon an idea by James Ivory)
StarringLewis J. Stadlen
Anne Francine
Sam Waterston
Susan Blakely
Ultra Violet
Salome Jens
Kathleen Widdoes
Thayer David
Asha Puthli
Martin Kove
Music byJoe Raposo
Bobby Short (theme song)
CinematographyWalter Lassally
Edited byKent McKinney
Distributed byAngelika Films
Release date
  • June 27, 1972 (1972-06-27)
Running time
106 minutes
CountryUnited States

The film concept given to Trow and O'Donoghue was to tell a story that was the reverse of Luis Buñuel's 1962 film The Exterminating Angel, in which guests at an elegant dinner party become bestial. Writing began in late 1968 and continued through 1969. Its first showing came at the Cannes Film Festival in May 1972.


In contrast to Buñuel's story, Savages starts when a tribe of primitive "mudpeople" performing a sacrifice encounter a croquet ball, rolling through their forest. Following it, they find themselves on a vast, deserted Westchester estate in the 1930s.

Entering, they begin to become civilized and assume the stereotypical roles and dress of people at a weekend party. There follows an allegory of upper-class behavior. At last, they begin to devolve toward their original status, and after a battle at croquet, they disappear into the woods.


The film received mixed to negative reviews by the critics. Matt Brunson noted that Savages is an "intriguing short-film idea stretched out to feature length, worth a glance primarily as an artifact of its time."[1] Variety however, noted that "the playing has flair and grace."[2]


This film has been released on DVD in 2004 as part of the Merchant-Ivory Collection produced by Criterion.


  • Mr. Mike: The Life and Work of Michael O'Donoghue by Dennis Perrin, 1999. ISBN 0-380-72832-X.

See also


  1. Brunson, Matt. "View from the Couch". Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  2. "Review: "Savages"". Variety. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
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