Wait Until Dark (1967)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
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Overall Rating 77%
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Ranked #2,337
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After a flight back home, Sam Hendrix returns with a doll he innocently acquired along the way. As it turns out, the doll is actually stuffed with heroin, and a group of criminals led by the ruthless Roat has followed Hendrix back to his place to retrieve it. When Hendrix leaves for business, the crooks make their move -- and find his blind wife, Susy, alone in the apartment. Soon, a life-threatening game begins between Susy and the thugs. --TMDb
Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn
Alan Arkin
Alan Arkin
Richard Crenna
Richard Crenna
Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
Jack Weston
Jack Weston
Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 11, 2005
When most people hear the term 'thriller', they automatically think of films like "The Silence of the Lambs", "The Firm", and "Seven". What they forget is that the thriller genre has been around for a long, long time. Alfred Hitchcock basically invented the genre, for every Hitchcock film was a thriller. When Terence Young released "Wait Until Dark", it was unknown how the film would be received. Young was best know for directing Sean Connery in several James Bond films and his resume as a director was not very extensive -- not to mention he was directing a cinematic legend like Audrey Hepburn. Nevertheless, the film was a considerable success, giving Hepburn a much deserved Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and giving the thriller genre one of the most suspenseful and shocking endings of all-time.

The film centers around Susy Hendrix (Audrey Hepburn), a woman who was rendered blind by a car accident and is married to a photographer, Sam Hendrix (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.). One day, Sam is given a doll by a woman at the airport and he brings it home with him. Little does he and his wife know that the doll is packed with heroine. Richard Crenna, Jack Weston, and an amazing Alan Arkin star as the three criminals who want the drugs. While Sam is away on business, the three men concoct an elaborate scheme to convince Susy that her husband has possibly murdered a girl found dead the day before. Crenna poses as an old friend of her husbands, Weston as a grumpy police detective, and Arkin as an old man and the husband of the deceased girl. They follow this plan in the hopes that Susy will give them the doll. Eventually, however, Susy starts to realize that something is wrong -- that the men are not whom they claim to be. It all boils down to a frightening conclusion that leaves you on the edge of your seat throughout. How does it end? Purchase the film on DVD and find out for yourself.

I know how clichéd it is to say that the performances carried this film, so I will only give them half the credit. Audrey Hepburn delivers, quite possibly, her most extraordinary performance of all-time, as the blind lady whose husband is cold in the way that he wants her to be more self-reliant. We see her desperation when she smells smoke and thinks her apartment is going to burn. We see her stubbornness is refusing to give up the location of the doll. And, we see her vulnerability, afraid of what the men might do to her inside her home, but still unable to find the strength to leave her home. What helps is that most people identified with Hepburn as such a vulnerable person, in real life. She seemed so sweet and innocent -- people wanted to protect her. This film really gives people the chance to sympathize with her, and with her character. And, Alan Arkin -- sheesh -- absolutely one of the greatest screen villains of all-time. He is calculating, creative, and purely cold blooded. Watch the ferocity with which he runs down one of his accomplices with his car. And, he is also given one of the greatest scares of all-time, which occurs just as Hepburn believes she has killed him and is walking away from the stairs -- it just jumps out and grabs you.

The other half of the credit goes to director Terence Young for such a claustrophobic and ethereal texture to the film. Most of the film takes place in the apartment so, by the end of the film, we know just as much about the layout of the apartment as the Audrey Hepburn character. And, the way in which Young orchestrates the blackout scene -- pure genius. You get intense periods of absolute dark, with shuffling and whispers heard. This is followed by Hepburn lighting a match, revealing where Arkin's character is now. We keep waiting for the match to reveal Arkin standing right behind her, but instead watch as Arkin opens the refrigerator door and connects back to an earlier part of the film involving the refrigerator. Never has a kitchen appliance held so much dread and misfortune within its circuits. I think Terence Young was just wanting to give audiences a taste of what Hepburn was feeling, as a blind person...and those blackouts scenes do a pretty good job of doing just that.

Whether you consider the thriller genre to be a relatively new invention, or consider thrillers to be just another, more psychological, type of horror film -- "Wait Until Dark" is as good as they come. The cast in marvelous, the pacing and staging is a thing of beauty, and never has one single, second-long scenes, made so many people leap from their seats in fright. Watch the film. Pay attention to how quick the scene actually is. How can a scene that short stick in your mind for so long? Maybe it's because it touches a nerve in that we are all afraid of total darkness. Maybe it's because we are all afraid of someone lurking in the shadows of our own homes. Maybe it's because it's just friggin' scary. Yep...I think the last one sums it up nicely. 10/10.
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #1: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 05/16/2008, 06:42 AM
The film's classic movie tone helps make it a notable thriller by effortlessly blending suspense, dread, and fine drollery. Although, I was slightly annoyed by half of everyone's acting, including Audrey Hepburn yet excluding Alan Arkin. Arkin played his villainous role terrificly; he had the word "creep" practically tattooed on his forehead. HIs big scare at the end has become one of my favorites, for it is one of few that have genuinely made me jump (on top of the fact that I knew it was coming). I would very much like to see the play of this.
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