A film that I think may have been from the 60’s, not sure. Young distressed woman…taken in by man who cares for her?

All I can remember of this film is that a young woman ends up on the street because of something that has happened to her, like she was used and rejected or something. Then a man, who looks disheveled and perhaps scary, finds her on sidewalk/street and takes her into his apartment (street level or basement?) and cares for her. he may not speak?? Does anyone know what I am talking about?

I think the movie is Something Wild, an acclaimed B&W indie film from 1961 that starred Carroll Baker and Ralph Meeker, shot on location in New York City. It was directed by Baker’s then husband, Jack Garfein.

Carroll Baker plays a young college girl who is raped one night coming home from a college class. She doesn’t tell anyone about the rape – not even her parents, with whom she has a strained relationship. She becomes increasingly despondent, eventually quitting college and leaving her parent’s home. She attempts to kill herself by jumping from a bridge, but a mechanic, played by Ralph Meeker, rescues her and brings her back to his dingy basement apartment.

Meeker is a sad and lonely guy himself. He takes care of Baker, but won’t let her leave, locking her in the apartment each day when he goes to work. One night he gets drunk and tries to force himself on her, and she knocks him out with a shoe. The next day, he intentionally leaves the door to the apartment unlocked when he goes to work, and Baker leaves. But after wandering the city, she decides to return to him.

The movie ends with Baker’s mother visiting her in the basement apartment. Baker and Meeker have married, and Baker finally seems at peace. She is visibly pregnant, and it is implied that the baby was conceived from the rape that took place at the beginning of the movie, but the couple is happy and looking forward to the birth of the child.

It is a masterful film. I’ve seen it only once, on Turner Classic Movies, during a tribute to its director Jack Garfein.

P.S. I thought I should point out that this film has no relationship to the Jonathan Demme comedy from the 1980’s that shares the same title. The title in the first sentence (in red) is a link to the imdb page for the movie in case you want to look at some stills in the photo gallery to see if the actors look familiar.