Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Favorite: Wait Until Dark

I apologize for the delay of my Friday Favorite this week, I'm dealing with some stupid stuff in my personal life and I was out late to dinner with a friend last night, which didn't allow for movie watching time or writing time.  So I'm a little late, but hope to have the post up before the end of the day.
All week I was trying to select my Friday Favorite and realized that my first 3 posts in this series have all been romantic films and all the movies that popped in my head for this week's installment were romances as well.  I guess I adore romance in movies.  So instead of doing a 4th movie filled with romance either peppered with comedy or drama or comedy and drama, I'm going to select one of my favorite suspense thrillers this week.  I like to experience the chills and spills as much as the next person.  That's why this week's Friday Favorite is: Wait Until Dark.  This movie stars Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin and Richard Crenna.  It is directed by Terence Young, who appears to have directed many James Bond films.  It was released in 1967 by Warner Brothers.  The music in the film, like some other Audrey Hepburn films (Charade and Breakfast at Tiffany's) was provided by Henry Mancini and the movie was produced by Hepburn's then husband, Mel Ferrer.  And it's from a play by Frederick Knott.

This movie is a very suspenseful thriller, with many chilling moments.  It stars Audrey Hepurn, in an Academy Award nominated role as Susy Hendrix, a blind woman who lives in a basement apartment in NYC with her husband.  Her husband unwittingly ends up in the possession of a doll filled with heroin.  This results in a rag-tag triad of henchman consisting of a super creepy Alan Arkin, a dashing Richard Crenna and a bumbling Jack Weston terrorizing Susy and her apartment while trying to get their hands on the doll.

I first saw this movie in 2006 and was quite frightened it.  The film pretty much plays into every fear that a woman living alone has ever had.  Coming home and worrying that there are strangers in the house, worrying that you can't leave, so scary!  And what makes it especially disconcerting in this movie is that it's all happening to sweet and innocent Audrey Hepburn, who's character also happens to be blind.  The movie takes place all in one location, the basement apartment.  This is most likely due to the fact that the source material is a play, but it also adds to the suspense and drama.  The location makes you feel trapped and claustrophobic, just like Susy, you can't get out.  It also takes place over the course of one day, which also makes it feel more immediate.

Another very chilling element in the movie is the incidental music, it is beyond creepy.  It makes me think of nails on a chalkboard, it is very eerie and unsettling.  It's filled with dissonant tones and it is used very well to set the tone and to supplement the overall feel of the movie.  Good job Mr. Mancini

This movie also features a good old fashioned swinging camera/chair/tripod/knife fight, well really just a stand-off.  Upon rewatching it, it actually made me giggle, watching Richard Crenna swing that camera, like he was Spartacus or something, here is a collage for your viewing pleasure:

you definitely don't see that everyday
Favorite Supporting Character:
It's hard to choose since the cast is so small and most of the supporting cast are villains and I don't usually have a soft spot for villains.  I'd have to choose the neighbor Gloria, played by Julie Herrod she's a young girl who's supposed to help out Susy when she can.  But she starts off throwing a little hissy fit in Susy's apartment and throwing all the kitchen utensils and things all over the floor, which is kind of a jerk move, Susy could so easily trip!  But she eventually apologizes and begins to be nice, helpful, and looks out for Susy.  Ultimately Gloria is Susy's greatest alley.  I suppose one could chalk her little tantrum up to being young.

There's also a funny exchange after the throwing sessions. Susy asks: Did we break anything?  and Gloria answers: I only throw unbreakables.

Favorite Scene:
 It's also hard to pick a favorite scene from this movie, I guess the one that is the most terrifying to watch and elicits the most emotion is the scene where Alan Arkin's character Roat, surprises Susy in the apartment alone and begins to torment her by running a scarf near her face and ears.  It is so scary and makes you imagine what it would be like if someone was doing that to you and you couldn't see what it was or where it was coming from, it's well acted and really a good way.

After re-watching the movie I checked out the special features and there was a featurette about the making of the movie that included interviews with Alan Arkin and Mel Ferrer.  They said it was very difficult to cast the Alan Arkin role because no one wanted to be so mean to Audrey Hepburn and Arkin himself said that it was difficult to be so terrible to such a lovely person.  Additionally Ferrer commented that this role was definitely against type for Hepburn, who had typically been cast in romantic lead and ingenue roles, but she played a very convincing blind person and conveyed the appropriate amount of fear.  Hepburn also opted not to wear restrictive lenses that would make her eyes look cloudy, instead she was able to create that affect herself by making her eyes look stare-y eyed instead.

 It's also interesting to note that after this film Hepburn took a 9 year hiatus from film making and didn't make another film until 1976's Robin and Marian, and then only acted in 4 more movies until her much too soon passing in 1993.

I'm conflicted over posting anymore cause I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone, so I think that's it for this post.  When it comes to a suspense/thriller there are obviously elements one should not give away in case people haven't seen the movie, but the movie does a wonderful job of keeping you on the edge of your seat, misguiding you, and scaring your pants off.  It was also somewhat difficult to think in terms of favorites when it comes to a suspense/thriller, maybe next time I do a film like this on a Friday Favorite I will change the format, since it's hard to have favorites when it comes to terrorizing Audrey Hepburn.  But that does it for this Friday Favorite, I will try to be more timely next week and I may end up back in the Romance genre, but we'll see, maybe there's a screwball comedy in our future.  As always, thanks for tuning in!


  1. Love, love this movie! One of the ones you could watch over and over. Hepburn is great and I have adored Alan Arkin ever since seeing his performance as Roat. Who else could be so hepcat and sinister at the same time? He is terrifying in spite of the goofy bowl haircut, and I keep wishing he would play another bad guy at his present age. {SPOILER ALERT} The scene where he jumps out at her! I know this is now a Hollywood cliche but I swear he must have originated it because it scares me every time.

    1. Great points Blakeney, I watched it about 3 times while putting this post together and it never got less suspenseful. And Alan Arkin's look is definitely bizarre a hippy, sociopath with a terrible haircut. I think his look is what made him so sinister, the bowl cut and those circle glasses, so creepy.

      That jump is by far one of the best movie jumps out there.

      Thanks for checking out the blog and the comment.