Wild Seed (1965): Brian Hutton’s Strikingly Filmed Juvenile Delinquents Tale of Love on the Run, Starring Cult Actor Michael Parks and Celia Kaye

Brian G. Hutton directed Wild Seed, a stylishly shot tale of love on the run of two teenagers, starring Michael Parks and Celia Kaye.

Grade: B+ (**** out of *****)

Wild Seed
Wild Seed poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster

17-year-old Daphne Simms, a teenager of 17, (Kaye) learns of her biological father from letters left by her deceased mother. She runs away from her New York home and adopted parents in search of her father in Los Angeles.

Unaware of the dangers on the road, she hitchhikes, only to be attacked by the older driver, forcing her to flee.

She manages to escape, but she is left in the darkness in the middle of nowhere. At a gas station, she meets Fargo (Parks), a good looking drifter, who asks for one dollar for food.

After relaxing a bit, they begin a conversation, and she allows him to help her get to California.

Their journey is defined by run-ins with hobos, encounters with the police, with Fargo lying that they’re married. There are always endless arguments and misunderstandings. and a serious illness.

But eventually, they form a close friendship, based on honest feelings for each other.

There’s a nice monologue in the middle of the film, in which Fargo, revealing himself to be a sensitive loner, admits to have been “a freak, a loser, and a bum,” describing how his beloved mother died young, when she fell down.

Upon arriving in L.A., Daphne finds her father, but she is disappointed.

Daphne’s adopted parents arrive, asking her to accompany them home, while expressing forgiveness and willingness to accept Fargo. However, Fargo rejects the offer and tells Daphne to go with her parents.

Later that night as he leaves a bar, he finds Daphne waiting for him outside, having decided to stay with him. With embraced arms, they walk along the dark street.

The script for the film, originally known as Daffy, was written in 1957 and sold to Marlon Brando’s company. While initially considered as starring vehicle for Brando, he was ultimately deemed too old (he was 33 at the time) for the part.

Made on a low budget, the film was shot in 24 days, and benefits immensely from the striking black-and-white imagery by Conrad Hall.

Producer Ruddy shot the picture with two endings, one with the lovers going their separate ways, the other with their staying together.

Parks enjoyed a late-career revival, when he was “discovered” by the new generation of indie directors in the 1990s.  He played two roles in Tarantino’s Kill Bill film series, reprising the role of Earl McGraw in the first film (2003) and playing pimp Esteban Vihaio in the second film (2004). He again repeated the role of Earl McGraw in both segments of the film Grindhouse (2007), making his fourth appearance as the Texas Ranger. Parks also played a villain in the horror films Red State (2011) and Tusk (2014), directed by Kevin Smith, who’s making a documentary about him; Parks died in 2017, age 77.

Cast
Michael Parks as Fargo
Celia Kaye as Daphne
Ross Elliott as Mr. Collinge
Woody Chambliss as Mr. Simms
Rupert Crosse as Hobo
Eva Novak as Mrs. Simms
Norman Burton as Policeman
Merritt Bohn as Constable
Al Lettieri as Bartender

Credits:

Directed by Brian G. Hutton
Produced by Marlon Brando, Sr., Albert S. Ruddy
Written by Ike Jones (story), Lester Pine
Music by Richard Markowitz
Cinematography Conrad L. Hall
Edited by Hugh S. Fowler

Production company: Pennebaker Productions

Distributed by Universal Pictures

Release date: May 5, 1965 (Chicago)

Running time: 99 minutes
Budget less than $300,000

Note:

TCM showed the movie on June 24, 2021, as part of its series, “Juvenile Delinquency in Film.”