“ Genre: Crime & Thriller / Theatrical Release: 1967 / Suitable for 12 years and over / Director: Terence Young / Actors: Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Jack Weston ... / DVD released 2006-03-13 at Warner Home Video / Features of the DVD: PAL, Widescreen „
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RELEASED: 1967, Cert. X
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 108 mins
DIRECTOR: Terence Young
PRODUCER: Mel Ferrer
SCREENPLAY: Robert Carrington & Jane-Howard Carrington
MUSIC: Henry Mancini
Audrey Hepburn as Susy
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Sam
Julie Herrod as Gloria
Jack Weston as Carlino
Alan Arkin as Roat
Richard Crenna as Mike
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Based on Frederick Knott's play, which presumably bears the same title, Wait Until Dark begins when Sam, Susy's husband, is handed a doll at an airport by a strange woman. Unaware that there are several packets of heroin sewn into the body of the doll, he takes it, only to learn later that the woman has been found dead at the apartment he shares with his blind wife, Susy.
A situation then unfolds whereby after the body has been discovered and disposed of in Susy and Mike's absence, Roat, the dead woman's crime partner (who had murdered her after discovering she was using his stash to deal for her own profit), wants the doll back to retrieve the drug which has been hidden inside.
Roat and his henchmen pay a visit to Susy whilst Sam is away for a few days, with the idea that because of Susy's blindness and using some well-thought-out strategy, they could search her apartment for the doll in her presence, but without her knowledge.
Initially trusting, yet gradually becoming suspicious of Roat and his cronies, blind Susy has to rely on her other senses in an attempt at keeping herself out of danger, having to constantly stay one step ahead of the criminal trio.
Wait Until Dark is one of those sleek, slick, late 1960s crime/thriller films which has a slight 'Hitchcock-ian' feel to it.
I did find the first part of the film a little confusing, as I initially wasn't sure how the relevance of the retrieval of the doll fitted in with Susy and her husband Sam, but it soon became clear.
Just going by styles and standards which are typical of films from this era, the acting by all concerned is very good, particularly that of Alan Arkin as the smooth-talking but callous Roat, and a splendid performance was given by Audrey Hepburn. This is a role where Hepburn managed to shed her image of charming sweetness, and dive into something with a little more grit. For the most part, Hepburn managed to carry off playing the role of a blind person with a certain finesse, but there were just a couple of tiny points during the film where I felt that a real blind person would have coped and dealt with things - just tiny, everyday things - differently, but that is a minor issue and I feel down to the direction/production rather than any faults in her acting.
The atmosphere which builds up during Wait Until Dark is quite suspenseful, and although I wasn't exactly sitting on the edge of my seat, I was gripped to the point where I couldn't wait for the next thing to happen, interested as to how the storyline was evolving. I also found one or two very slightly amusing moments in the film, but I'm not sure if they were planted intentionally, or whether my sense of humour runs along a different track to most other people's.
Once the initial scene has been set, most of Wait Until Dark is filmed inside of Susy and Sam's living-room, with Susy at the mercy of the three crooks who quite cleverly confidence-trick her into allowing them access to her apartment. Considering the scene/environment rarely changes, I felt this to be an extremely well-directed film in that the rising levels of suspense centre on a blind woman's fear and her attempts, once she realises Roat & Co aren't as nice as they initially seemed, to secure her own safety inside of her own home. A lot of focus is put upon how a blind person has to think outside of the box, and rely heavily on their other senses in order to work out what is going on, and how to cope with a dangerously mutating situation....senses that sighted people mostly don't turn to as their number one source of assimilating information and working out strategy techniques. This is put across very well in the film, and congratulations to all who were involved.
Although the tension levels gradually run high in Wait Until Dark, it is, compared to modern-day offerings in the same genre, a more laid-back and gentler film which concentrates on subtleties rather than rampant violence. It relies on environment, characterisation, acting ability and dialogue rather than high-action car chases, gratuitous violence, blood and gore.
Overall, Wait Until Dark is one of those gems from the late 1960s which until yesterday, I'd never even heard of, let alone seen (how on earth did I miss it first time around?). It is a skilfully presented and acted little crime/thriller which I feel is more than capable of knocking some modern-day productions from their pedestals. It must be said that to watch and enjoy Wait Until Dark, the acting style from its era has to be accepted for what it is, and an ability to immerse yourself into a gem from another era without prejudice is required....but, I feel be well worth it, as this is a great little film which deserves to be brought down from the shelf, dusted, and appreciated for what it is....an all-time and perhaps underrated classic.
Once it got going, I loved it!
At the time of writing, Wait Until Dark can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: from £6.48 to £39.99
Used: from £5.48 to £29.98
Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
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