Ben Maddow had a noteworthy career as screenwriter for left-leaning documentaries (Valley Town, Native Land) and Hollywood potboilers (Asphalt Jungle, The Wild One), but he only directed two features: one, an experimental documentary (The Savage Eye); the other a fraught, New York-based indie concerning mid-life, marital malaise. An Affair of the Skin—which was co-produced by photographer and filmmaker Helen Levitt—received mixed reviews at the time of its 1963 release (most, ironically, complaining about the screenplay), but Maddow’s existential melodrama provides a rare opportunity to reevaluate the talents of a surprisingly eminent cast (Kevin McCarthy, Lee Grant, Viveca Lindfors, and the tragic and beautiful Diana Sands, whose career was cut short in the early 1970s when she died at the age of 39). Never available on video, the film features artfully elegant cinematography, an off-kilter soundtrack, plus oodles of wintery, New York ambience.
Introduced by series curator Michael Bowen, Adjunct Lecturer at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
An Affair of the Skin
Directed by Ben Maddow.
1963, 102 min, 16mm, b&w. Archival print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
Screening part of Anthology Film Archives' Beyond Cassavetes: Lost Legends of the New York Film World (1945-1970) series.