Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Alone in the dark with a killer
WAIT UNTIL DARK (1967). Director: Terence Young.

Blind Susy Hendrix (Audrey Hepburn) is unaware that some men who have come to her apartment pretending to either be friends of her husband or police officers are actually crooks looking for a drug-filled doll that a woman handed off to Susy's unsuspecting husband, Sam (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.). Gradually she realizes that something is wrong, and prepares to fight for her life when the gentlemen come back from a wild goose chase she's sent them on. The main trouble with Wait Until Dark -- which was based on a stage play by Frederick Knott (Dial M for Murder) -- is that the suspense is minimal because the audience is clued in to what's going on from the very beginning. Hepburn gives a very good performance and the rest of the surprisingly C List cast are fine, although Alan Arkin seems about as threatening as Boris Badenov. Julie Herrod is excellent as the neighbor child Gloria who is alternately helpful and bratty. Henry Mancini's score does what it can to increase the limited excitement. It's hard to figure why Arkin and Crenna were billed above the title along with Hepburn.

SPOILER ALERT: Susy has been encouraged by her husband to be as independent as possible despite her blindness, which leads to two problematical developments. We already know she can walk by herself to her husband's office, so instead of barricading herself in her apartment, why doesn't she just leave and ask for someone to help her get to the nearest precinct? [St. Luke's Place where this takes place runs right into Seventh Avenue and the men watching her place have gone off on the wild goose chase.] At the very end when Sam sees her bloodied and huddled by the refrigerator, he waits for her to get up and make her way towards him, but surely in a situation like this he would forget his independence edict and go hug the woman he's supposed to be in love with after such an ordeal? Also, in a moment that made some nervous nellies in the audience jump in fright, Alan Arkin leaps out of the darkness at Susy after he's been stabbed and falls to the ground unconscious. Maybe he might have been able to painfully lurch after her, but leap? The moment is ludicrous instead of startling.

Verdict: If you want to see a better Frederick Knott adaptation watch Dial M for Murder instead. **.

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