You'll have to wait until dark before things get really interesting in this thriller from James Bond director Terrence Young.
Wait Until Dark is based on Frederick Knott's play, hence the limited setting of a basement apartment in New York City. If you're a film fan with little patience for essentially one-location films, be warned. What a change of pace this must have been for the director of Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Thunderball.
This 1967 thriller has its strong points, especially a solid cast with Audrey Hepburn, Richard Crenna, Jack Weston and a very creepy Alan Arkin. His character is one ruthless killer.
I'M GRATING MY TEETH
But, prepare to have your patience tested by a plot that gives heroine Susy Hendrix (Hepburn) several opportunities to get help pronto. Instead, she repeatedly opts for Plan B. This woman lives in New York City? Yikes. Hey, why call police when you can send a child to wait for your husband at a bus station?
Roat (Alan Arkin) offs drug mule Lisa (Samantha Jones) when she tries to do business on her own. He needs to find a doll packed with heroin that Lisa handed off to Hendrix's photographer husband, Sam, at the end of a flight. Sam has no clue what the doll holds.
Roat recruits two former cops (Crenna and Weston) to help him find the doll in the couple's apartment. Susy, who recently lost her sight in a motor vehicle collision, begins to piece together bits and pieces in the stories of the three men that don't quite add up. Give them marks for trying to cook up a yarn involving Lisa's murder and suggesting Sam had a role in her demise.
QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS, TOO MANY QUESTIONS
Wait Until Dark has received some pretty high praise from some critics. I can't be as generous. Susy never should have been put in a life and death situation. She finds out where the doll is. Why doesn't she just give it to the men? Why doesn't she tell neighbouring girl Gloria (Julie Herrod) instructions to call police? Why doesn't she call police? Why doesn't she see a neighbour. She's not living in the bush.
While I'm busy asking questions, why does Roat dress up as two other characters? Did he forget Susy's blind?
Even with those frustrating questions in mind, the last 10 minutes do generate some solid suspense. Enjoy what Susy does to try and defend herself and be prepared for one very effective jolt.
DON'T MISS THE THEME SONG
Stay tuned for the theme song as the film's credits roll, courtesy of Henry Mancini. That's just how it was in the 1960s, I suppose.
CAST: Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna, Jack Weston, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Samantha Jones.
FUN FACTS: What happened to Julie Herrod? Wait Until Dark was her only film. She appeared in two television shows, the last having aired in 1967. Wait Until Dark came out a year after Arkin appeared in The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! One of Richard Crenna's last roles was that of Ronald Reagan in The Day Reagan was Shot. He died in 2003. Wait Until Dark marked the film debut for fashion model Samantha Jones. Her last film was Get To Know Your Rabbit in 1972.
From Donald Spoto's The Life of Audrey Hepburn:
Director Terrence Young, wounded at Battle of Arnhem during the Second World War, was nursed by Audrey Hepburn and her mother. Young and Hepburn had a tea break at 4 p.m. daily during production.
From Charles Higham's Audrey: The Life of Audrey Hepburn
Young wanted George C. Scott to play the villain.
Richard Crenna and Jack Weston borrowed suits of armour from set of Camelot to have fun with Wait Until Dark cast and crew.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Wait Until Dark (1967)
Reel Popcorn Junkie is a reporter with a newspaper in the province of Ontario in Canada. He began writing film reviews when he was a student at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont. Reel Popcorn Junkie continues to write entertainment copy for a daily newspaper, but not film reviews. Reel Popcorn Junkie always orders a regular popcorn, with no butter, when he attends the cinema.