JONATHAN DEMME, THE director that young film-makers refer to as “his eminence,” passed from us this year and left the world with a splendid array of motion pictures suitable for framing.

Yes, even as his early trilogy of films shook up movie screens, we had no idea that “Philadelphia,” “The Manchurian Candidate,” and the magnificent “The Silence of the Lambs” were on the horizon.

Today we honor what a few critics say was his best, the madcap, insane, comedy drama “Something Wild.”

We begin with a misdemeanor. In a random act of rebellion, Charles Driggs (a very young Jeff Daniels), a seemingly staid young Manhattan tax consultant, has a pub lunch and then walks out without paying his tab.

He is followed to the street by Lulu (an equally young and incredible Melanie Griffith) wearing a silent movie-star Louise Brooks wig and adorned in a startling wardrobe seemingly thrown together in the dark, her arms coated from wrist to elbow in early Carmen Miranda plastic jewelry and the requisite fabulous shoes.

Within seconds, she accuses our hero of the crime, threatens to call the police unless he lets her drive him to his office, forces him into her car, and drives off like the wheel woman for a bank robbery.

Charles, caught off guard and thrust into a kaleidoscopic discombobulation, goes along, and the movie begins.

What we’re witnessing is a snatch of madness, seemingly concocted on the spot by Lulu when she spotted the stray “puppy” with a look she has been waiting for all her life.

“What’s happening?” Charlie squeals.

“I’m setting you free.”

“Wait a minute. What if I don’t want to be free?”

Oh yes, he does, and she knew that the moment she laid eyes on him. We think this is not her first “puppy.”

First stop? A sublimely cheesy motel in New Jersey, where Lulu strips down, tears off Charlie’s Madison Avenue wardrobe, rips off his T-shirt, handcuffs him to the bedpost, and how do I put this in a family newspaper? OK, OK, she makes love to him.

From this moment on, we settle back to eat our popcorn and enjoy a “madcap comedy.” No such luck. This is not Preston Sturges. This is Jonathan Demme unleashed, and when all is unpacked and spread out across three states, you will wind up out of breath and probably embarrassingly aroused, frightened, unnerved and, for quite a spell, confused.

Stick with it. Demme has given you a ticket to ride. Don’t get confused by the scenery. Keep your eye on Lulu, who will soon take Charlie home to meet a liberated Mama somewhere in Pennsylvania, where Lulu will shower and emerge as Audrey in short, cropped blonde hair and a dress sweet enough for Ann Blyth to wear to a picnic.

Now hold on. I mean, really hold on. You’re completely not ready for what’s coming.

Demme’s “madcap comedy” is about to drop into a nightmare of unexpected darkness — I mean Hitchcock darkness. So as not to give away what you’re about to see, I’m going to give you the rest of this in a series of Kodachrome snapshots:

Audrey’s 10th high school reunion at the school where we meet Ray (Ray Liotta), Audrey’s psychotic ex-husband with Rosemary’s Baby’s eyes and a plan for the evening.

A two-car chase, a 7-Eleven store holdup, another motel, two brutal fights, a knife, a gun, more handcuffs and a murder. Yes, a murder.

There’s so much more, but I can’t say a word. This is a suspense sandwich with ingredients labeled FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.

Jeff Daniels is amazing. For Daniels, not yet ready for Woody Allen’s “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” this is a kind of coming-of-age movie, one in which he comes of age in two nights.

The young and fresh Melanie Griffith will take your breath away. Melanie has always been breathtaking, but this time, you might not get it back.

Ray Liotta, an over actor with his signature cackle I’ve never cared for, nevertheless delivers what he’s given to do — scare the hell out of you.

His Ray is a preview of what will become his major and only good work as Henry Hill in the 1990 crime drama film “Goodfellas.”

Here’s the icing: The best rock ‘n’ roll sound track ever.

Tak Fujimoto’s camera dances from love nest to blood fest, and the very good screenplay is by then beginner E. Max Frye, who wrote “Foxcatcher” and “Where the Money Is.”

Good night Jonathan, wherever you are.

J.P. Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and film actor.

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