A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Wait Until Dark

May 28, 2011

Wait Until Dark

Today for a change I asked Amanda if we could watch a movie that she had seen and I had not. We had bought this movie for just such a reason, because it the a movie Amanda had vivid memories of watching in high school but which I had for some reason never picked up. I wish I knew why I never saw this – it’s a fantastically constructed film full of suspense and tension and it features a wonderfully strong female lead. I love Audrey Hepburn (doesn’t everybody?) but somehow I never ended up seeing this movie. Very strange.

I’ve seen it now, though, and I can understand why Amanda was so eager to share it with me. What I found fascinating as I watched this movie is that it is a combination of a heist film and a suspense/horror film. It combines some great tension with amazing acting and direction to produce a fantastic whole.

Audrey Hepburn, whose enormous eyes are rather distracting to begin with, plays a woman blinded in a car crash and fire who is trying (with the support of her photographer husband) to learn how to live without her sight. This alone would make for an interesting movie, and as Susy Hendrix Hepburn is completely believable as blind. Very soon, however, Suzy is caught up in a frightening situation that would tax any person who still had their sight. Her husband Sam, while returning from a trip to Canada recently, was given a doll by a woman he met on the plane. He was told that the doll was to be given as a gift to this woman’s sick daughter in the hospital, but in reality it is stuffed full of heroin and she gave it to Sam to keep it away from a terrifying killer named Roat.

Roat kills the smuggler Lisa and tracks the doll to Suzy and Sam’s place, but when he tries to get it back from them it has mysteriously vanished. So Roat comes up with a convoluted plan to get the doll back. He blackmails a pair of hoodlums who used to work with Lisa into working with him (implying that if they try to double cross him he will implicate them in Lisa’s murder) and the three of them convince Sam to leave on an all night photography job so that they can work a complicated sting on the supposedly helpless Susy to convince her to help them find the doll.

Admittedly the plot is needlessly complicated and intricate. That’s not what makes the movie great though. This is Susy’s movie and everything else in it to give her something to be awesome in. I was fascinated after watching the movie when I read in IMDB (the source of all knowledge) that the role of Suzy was not actually originated by Audrey Hepburn at all but was played on Broadway by Lee Remick. Either way this is an absolutely killer role. Susy as a character is initially fairly timid, able to get around in spite of her handicap but not entirely comfortable with it. Her biggest advantage though is that she’s absolutely smart as a whip. It’s just so much fun to see her figuring out just what is going on with these three con artists.

Interestingly it is precisely because she is simultaneously so smart and so timid that this movie has the great level of tension that is maintains. With each new discovery about her dire circumstances Suzy becomes more terrified, so that by the end of the film when she fully realises that she is trapped in her apartment with no help on the way and a brutal killer intent on not just getting the doll from her but on doing her harm just because he can… well it’s a fantastic confrontation and a great pay off for the film.

Playing the nefarious Roat is a very young Alan Arkin, and I have to say I was completely blown away by him as well. His character is so casually and thoroughly evil – so delighted by any opportunity to manipulate and toy with other people – he’s a perfect foil for the ever so trusting and gentle Suzy.

A good deal of what makes this movie so fantastic is the tight and well written script. As with any adventure/thriller the elements that will make up the climax of the movie are carefully planted in the viewer’s mind early on in the film, and I had a lot of fun seeing how everything fit together. I’m curious to know just how much had to be altered from the original play by Frederick Knott when it was adapted for the screen by Robert and Jane-Howard Carrington.

It’s discovering great films like this that make our movie a day project so much fun. I might have watched this some day if we hadn’t started the project, but I don’t know if I would have added it to our collection. I’m so glad that on Amanda’s recommendation I did buy it and that we now have it on a shelf and ready to be watched or shared with guests and friends any time. I am only slightly saddened that I did not get a chance to see it in a theater on a big screen as Amanda did when she first saw it.

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May 28, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

2 Comments »

  1. I was introduced to Alan Arkin in comedies such as The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming, Catch-22 and so on, so his vileness here was great. I can’t think of another bad guy he has played, but I probably just haven’t seen enough of his movies. Always a treat when he shows up. E.g. as Dr. Oatman in Grosse Pointe Blank.

    Comment by Doc Wheat | May 30, 2011 | Reply

  2. Never heard of this film, sounds great.

    Comment by rhodri89 | May 30, 2011 | Reply


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