Movie Review: Wait Until Dark

Wait Until Dark is an older movie that I am genuinely surprised isn’t more famous. It has a lot going for it.


Summary: A recently blinded woman is terrorized by a trio of thugs while they search for a heroin-stuffed doll they believe is in her apartment.

Acting: 4/5: It’s hard to go wrong with Audrey Hepburn. While I did talk to my mom and we both agreed it would’ve been nice if they had cast a blind actress for the role, you have to keep in mind this was the 60s, which would’ve made things kind of difficult in that department. However, I think I did hear she did work with actual blind people to see how they act and move and the like, which I find believable; she did a great job, and didn’t feel contrived. She felt, for the most part, realistic.

Alan Arkin played the main villain…boy, was he creepy. He was conniving, cruel, and just disturbing in general. The other performances were good too, but those were the ones that stood out.

Story: 4.5/5: This was a good idea. It involves drug dealers who stuff a doll filled with heroin. One of the dealers, a woman, gives an unknowing man (Sam Hendrix) the doll, so they can sneak it into America. Sam goes back to his home, and she follows him. However, Sam loses the doll, and while he and his wife are both out of the house, another one of the dealers attacks the woman and kills her, but he doesn’t know where the doll is. The man basically blackmails two men to search the house, but then Susy, Sam’s recently blinded wife, arrives home, complicating everything. When she leaves briefly once more, the three concoct a complicated plan to get the doll back, using Susy’s blindness to manipulate her. They try to convince her that her husband is an adulterer and murderer, psychologically torturing her into being too afraid to leave her own home and to find the doll. But Susy begins to realize what is going on, and with the help of a young girl named Gloria, begins to use her blindness as an advantage to outsmart them.

It’s a surprisingly complex plot, but it works. It’s clever, and I always enjoy stories where a character with a handicap proves that they are capable, and can even use their problems as strengths in ways ‘normal’ people can’t.

Design: 4/5: This takes place (with the exception of a few scenes) in Susy’s apartment, which gives it an appropriately claustrophobic feeling at times. A few short scenes in other areas, like a few outside, or in a car, or in Gloria’s apartment, help make it feel a little better, but for the most part, it takes place inside, which helped build a good sense of suspense. There really are no special effects for the whole movie, due to it being a “realistic” movie. However, there is a great reason theaters wouldn’t allow people to come inside the theater where this played during the last eight minutes; while it doesn’t have “effects”, Per se, it still uses darkness to the best effect possible.


Characters: 4/5: The characters were pretty darn good. While Sam and one of the thugs weren’t characterized much (Sam especially), the other characters more than make up for it.


First, we have Susy, the protagonist. Susy is a character I’m stunned isn’t iconic. She is likely one of the first female characters in a movie who is shown as capable and able to hold her own. While in the beginning, she appears overly fearful and dependent on her husband, this can be justified in two ways: A. She is recently blinded, and B. It’s the 60s. But she develops well; she’s able to hold off three thugs who are trying to psychologically manipulate and break her, and is able to use the handicap they are trying to use to hurt her to her advantage. I just love that what they perceive as her greatest weakness turns out to be her greatest strength. In a way, she is more progressive than most female characters nowadays; it’s hard to think of one with a handicap who isn’t shown as a victim or weak. I’m just stunned she isn’t as beloved as someone like Ellen Ripley; while I love Ripley and her influence on female characters, I think we can learn something from people like Susy; someone who cries, is scared, but pushes past that, all while using her weakness and her opponents perception of her to her advantage. I think it’s more inspiring.

I can’t talk much about Roat, the main villain, without spoiling much of the plot…but let’s just say he’s a great villain. We absolutely hate him for the pain he inflicts on Susy, both physical and emotional. He’s smart, creepy, and ruthless. Heck, even Talman and Carlino, his two “partners” are scared of him, and want to turn on him. 

I also like Gloria. Unlike many child characters, she’s useful. While she appears bratty and petty at first, she changes and helps Susy a lot, and is helpful. While she does cause some problems, she more than makes up for them.

Talman is one of the thugs who is hired by Roat to get the doll. He’s the one one who meets Susy first. Unlike Carlino, the other thug, he seems to try not to hurt or scare Susy as much. It’s shown that both he and Carlino are both blackmailed into this pot, and don’t want to help Roat, though especially Talman. 

World Building: 3.5/5: This isn’t a prevalent part of the plot, so I don’t have much to say. It’s from the 60s, and captures how people, perceives the handicapped. 

Pros:

  • Awesome main character: Susy is amazing. While she seems weak in the beginning, she proves to be absolutely amazing. She uses the villains’ expectations of her handicap to her advantage, and is shown to be capable, resilient, and smart, not allowing herself to be manipulated. 
  • Atmosphere: You know you have an amazing thriller when even Stephen King claims the last fifteen minutes as one of the scariest things he’s seen on film.
  • The last fifteen minutes: This goes with what I said above. I mean, Stephen King, one of the best horror writers ever, said that. Let me just say those last few minutes are ingenious.

Cons:

  • Kind of dated: Nowadays, Sam seems really insensitive and unkind towards Susy’s blindness. And Gloria’s first scene where she throws a temper tantrum can’t be justified anymore.
  • Slower: Like most older thrillers, this is a bit on the slow side. But this helps increase suspense, and makes the last few, faster paced scenes all the more thrilling.
  • One of the reasons this may not be that iconic is because of Susy’s first appearances; she seems overly fearful and subservient. But think of it like Wendy Torrance from The Shining; she starts as overly subservient, but proves to be resilient and just amazing.  They both have fantastic development, becoming capable and emotionally strong, which is truly inspiring.

Grade: 4/5: This movie is kind of dated at times with how people treat Susy as a blind woman. But this matches the era (the 60s) and is progressive despite that, showing Susy as being just as capable, if not more so, than someone who can see. This is a great thriller that deserves to be more well known than it is.

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Movie Review: Wait Until Dark

    1. Same. I seriously wonder why it isn’t more famous, it has so much going for it, let’s see: one of the first movies to show a female protagonist capable of defending herself, a handicapped protagonist shown in a good light, a child supporting character who is actually useful, tension, suspense, an intricate plot line letting you know the villains aren’t idiots, and the last fifteen minutes. I feel like it deserves a lot more recognition.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You’re absolutely right: one cannot go wrong with Audrey Hepburn! She was such an amazing actress, not to mention human being, and she lights up any room she walks into.
    I hadn’t heard of this movie before, and it seems to be one of her most underrated ones. I love that it’s so creepy and scary – in a psychological manner, no less, despite being from an era without special effects. Actors really gave their all back then, since they didn’t have anything else they could use as a crutch: it was their performance, and the script, and the director’s guidance. Nothing else. I also love the entire plot and Susy, most of all: she sounds like an epic female lead!
    I understand that it might feel dated and slow for that same reason, but I’m glad those didn’t seem to affect your opinion all that much. I will definitely try and watch this one soon. I mean, if even Stephen King said it, it must be true!
    Wonderful review, Kate 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sophie!
      Hepburn really was amazing on both counts.
      It is really underrated, which is strange…my dad says when it first came out, people LOVED it, and every girl was looking up to Hepburn. Which begs the question, why is it so under the radar? The acting was definitely great, and it managed to be genuinely creepy. And she was! I would love to see more female leads like Susy; someone who’s feminine and allowed to cry and be afraid, but grows past that and exhibits smarts and resilience. Not to mention positive handicapped characters that aren’t victims or unrealistically empowered. She felt really real.
      Well, yes, it was a tad dated and slow, but that’s to be expected; it was from the sixties. Yes, please try to find it; I fount it at my library and put a hold on it. Yep, even Stephen King said it was an amazing thriller! Lemme know when you see it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Definitely will! Some older movies never get the recognition they deserve and it’s quite upsetting… Obviously, Hepburn was absolutely stellar in this (playing a kickass blind woman, are you kidding?) so I don’t get why it fell under the radar either… Must have something to do with how creepy it is? In comparison to her other merry/less deep portrayals? She was still pretty much in her prime, too.
        Will do! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know…I don’t get it. It was so well written! Yep, while me and my mom agree it would’ve been nice if an actual blind woman played the part, Hepburn did a great job anyway; she felt realistic, despite being able to see. It’s just such a creative film, I don’t understand how it fell so under the radar. And that might be it…I read they had trouble finding a guy who would play the villain, because: A. They didn’t want to be so mean to Hepburn, and B. They worried that by being so mean to her, it would ruin their careers 😂.
        Fun fact: this was actually her last movie before taking a few years off acting. I don’t remember when she came back, I just know it took a little time.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s