I like many different movies, including several older ones. I have added some of those older movies to my ever growing DVD collection. I first saw Wait Until Dark several years ago on television and really enjoyed it. I recently watched again after picking up the DVD.
A young blind woman, Susy, ends up in the middle of a dangerous situation after a woman gives her husband Sam a doll at the airport. Sam and Susy don't know that the doll is full of heroin. Roat, a man after the heroin, tracks the doll to Sam and Susy. Roat still wants the drugs, so he comes up with an elaborate plan involving Mike Talman and Carlino to get the doll. Roat arranges for Sam, a photographer, to be gone on a long shoot all day. Mike shows up and pretends to be an old friend of Sam's from the Marines. Things are done to make Susy believe that the police consider Sam a suspect in a murder. Mike convinces her that the only way to protect Sam is to find the doll while Roat and Carlino do things to terrorize Susy.
Wait Until Dark is based on the play of the same name written by Frederick Knott. I have not seen the play, so I don't know what, if anything, has been changed for the movie version. Most of the movie takes place in Sam and Susy's rather small apartment. I think that might be because it was originally a stage play. The first few minutes of the movie, showing how Sam ends up with the doll at the airport, might have been added for the movie. Some people may not like that the movie is confined to such limited sets, but I think that works for the movie and everything that is going on.
There is a little bit of mystery in Wait Until Dark connected to the doll that everyone is so determined to find. It is clear right away why everyone wants the doll. The mystery has to do with what Susy will do if she finds it. I also wonder why Susy was so willing to trust Mike so much when he is a stranger to her. That does seem to push the believability a bit, but I was still able to enjoy the movie. The movie works very well as a thriller and has several suspenseful moments. The suspense is well done and keeps things interesting even though the movie has a slower pace overall. The slower pace actually helps to build the suspense and tension up to the final confrontation. There is a sense of fear to what is happening, especially when you consider that Susy is blind. The situation Susy is in is terrifying and believable. There is a scare moment at one point, but it is done very well and works perfectly with what was going on at the time. People who enjoy good thrillers should give this movie a chance.
Most of Wait Until Dark is focused on Susy and what she is going through. She lost her vision in an accident that happened before the movie began and she is still adjusting to being blind. She seems well adjusted overall, though she does have a few minor issues. She is fairly self-reliant, which ultimately helps her when she ends up in a very dangerous situation. Susy is a bit gullible though since she had no problem placing so much trust in Mike when he was really a stranger to her. Audrey Hepburn was very good in the part. I thought she was believable as a blind woman. I've read that Hepburn spent several months before the filming of the movie with blind women.
Sam is gone for most of the movie, which ties into the main plot since things wouldn't have worked properly if he had been home. He seems nice enough, though he is a bit demanding in what he expects Susy to do on her own. I think he did it so she could take care of herself when he wasn't around, but it did make him seem like a jerk at times. Efrem Zimbalist Jr. was fine in the part even though he didn't have much to do. Gloria is a young neighbor girl who frequently visits with Susy. Gloria seems to be attempting to help, though she also causes Susy problems by moving things around or even having tantrums.
Roat is the man determined to get the doll back so he can get the heroin. It is very clear right away that he is willing to do anything to get the doll. He is cold blooded and methodical, and not much of anything bothers him. He comes up with a somewhat elaborate plan to get the doll from Susy that involves him also posing as two other men. Alan Arkin was amazing in the part, making Roat a believable villain and a truly scary person. He is just creepy and not likable in any way. Mike and Carlino are the two men that Roat pulls into the plan. They don't seem to like Roat, but they go along with what he wants to do. Mike pretends to be one of Sam's old friends and manages to get Susy to trust him in no time. Richard Crenna was good in the part. Carlino also has a part to play, though he isn't around as much as Mike. Jack Weston handled the part fine.
Alan Arkin - Roat
Richard Crenna - Mike
Audrey Hepburn - Susy
Jack Weston - Carlino
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. - Sam
Terrence Young - Director
I recently decided to add Wait Until Dark to my DVD collection when I found it for around $8. My copy has the widescreen version of the movie. I have no idea if there is also a full screen version or not. There is a featurette on the making of the movie and an essay on turning the play into the movie that I haven't taken the time to check out yet. The disc also includes the trailers for the movie.
Wait Until Dark is a well done thriller that has held up well even though it has a few minor issues. People in the mood for a good thriller should give it a chance. Fans of the cast, especially Audrey Hepburn, may like the movie.
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