WAIT UNTIL DARK: DVD
A year after losing her sight in an accident, Susy Hendrix (Audrey Hepburn) is still learning how to be self sufficient. Her photographer husband Sam (Efrem Zimbalist Jnr) is supportive and Susy can also call on Gloria (Julie Herrod), the little girl who lives in the upstairs apartment, to help with the chores. When Sam is called away on an assignment, psychopathic killer Roat (Alan Arkin) and two accomplices (Richard Crenna and Jack Weston) terrorise Suzy, as they search for a heroin-stuffed doll they believe she has.
Review by Louise Keller:
This superb drama filled with spell-binding tension has not lost an iota of its considerable impact, even 40 years after it was made. Audrey Hepburn is mesmerising as the blind woman whose quick thinking is more illuminating than the brightest of lights, while brilliant scripting and direction gets our imagination to work overtime. The film's final 15 minutes are as terrifying as any film I can remember, as Susy uses her considerable wits to smash the apartment's lightbulbs (all except one) as she faces Alan Arkin's despicable killer, Roat. Director Terence Young uses darkness, shadows, sound and music to fully immerse us in the terror that Susy faces. Like Susy, surrounded by darkness, we cannot see the danger, nor can we predict what lies ahead. Time seems to stand still as Susy becomes the pawn in the game created by Roat and his accomplices as they play out their scenarios toying with Susy's vulnerability.
'Do I have to be the world's champion blind lady,' Hepburn's Susy asks Sam, as he encourages her self-reliance? There's a moment of self-pity as Susy turns her back to hide the tears welling up in her eyes, but then she faces him determinedly, saying 'Then I will be; I'll be whatever you want me to be'. The 'important' things she wishes for are 'to cook a souffle, pick necktie, choose wallpaper...' At first, the hurdles Susy needs to overcome are physical, groping to find a fallen item. The problems become more complex as the plain bespectacled child Gloria (Julie Herrod) who clearly wants 'to be gorgeous' like Susy, plays cruel psychological games. But those problems fade into insignificance, as Roat (Arkin is unbelievably creepy) and accomplices (Richard Crenna and Jack Weston) infiltrate the apartment; Susy has never seemed so alone. Small things like squeaky shoes, banging on waterpipes, two telephone rings and a tapping cane become important and contribute to the final outcome.
I almost stopped breathing in the final climactic scenes as Susy and Roat come face to face in a memorable confrontation. The moment when he clutches her ankle in the dark is where audiences go beserk (as Arkin mentions in the behind the scenes feature). Once seen, Wait Until Dark will never be forgotten. But be wary if you watch it alone!
It's a treat, in the DVD featurette, to see Alan Arkin talking today about the drug-ridden psychopath he played years ago. 'Most of all, I hated terrorising Audrey Hepburn,' he says. 'I was nuts about her. Whatever her screen persona appears to be, that's what she was like...I felt I was working with real royalty, but in the most beautiful possible way. She was witty, enormously hard working and incredibly game.' Producer Mel Ferrer, (who was married to Hepburn between 1954 and 1968) also talks about the screen icon, who he claims lacked in confidence, and always wanted to improve her performance. 'I'm very proud of the picture,' he says 'And I'm very proud of Audrey.'
Published April 17, 2008
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WAIT UNTIL DARK: DVD (M)
CAST: Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Jack Weston, Samantha Jones, Julie Herrod
PRODUCER: Mel Ferrer
DIRECTOR: Terence Young
SCRIPT: Frederick Knott (play), Robert Carrington, Jane-Howard Carrington (screenplay)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Charles Lang
EDITOR: Gene Milford
MUSIC: Henry Mancini
PRODUCTION DESIGN: George Jenkins (Art Direction)
RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: A Look in the Dark featurette
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video
DVD RELEASE: April 9, 2008