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DVD Reviews

HTF Review: Wait Until Dark



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#1 of 4 OFFLINE   Herb Kane

Herb Kane

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Posted August 01 2003 - 03:29 AM

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Wait Until Dark





Studio: Warner Brothers
Year: 1967
Rated: Not Rated
Film Length: 108 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio: DD Mono
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish




The Feature:
Directed by Terence Young and produced by Mel Ferrer, who at the time was married to Audrey Hepburn, Wait Until Dark is based on a Frederick Knott play. The opening scene is that of a young woman impatiently waiting for a china doll being sewn up after being stuffed with heroin packets. The young woman, Lisa (Samantha Jones), then heads for the airport and a flight from Montreal, Canada to New York City. Upon arriving at the airport in New York, Lisa spots a man waiting for her and passes off the doll she is carrying to an unsuspecting man she met on the flight. It should be no surprise that Lisa has a couple of unsavory friends, Mike Talman (Richard Crenna) and Carlino (Jack Weston), who have recently been released from prison. Mike and Carlino receive a note to meet Lisa at an apartment and upon arriving find she is not there. Enter Roat, a truly evil man who killed Lisa and now strikes a deal with Mike and Carlino to help him get the doll back. We now discover the apartment they are in is not that of Lisa’s but rather that of our unsuspecting man from the airport, Sam Hendrix (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.), photographer, and his recently blinded wife, Susy (Audrey Hepburn). Sam is determined to make his wife self sufficient. After being blinded in a car accident only a year earlier, Susy is struggling to cope with not only the day to day tasks, but with the fear that she will not live up to her husband’s expectations. When Sam receives a bogus call for a photo shoot, Susy agrees to his going, not wanting to appear too needy. With her husband out of the way, the three men now have time to plot the retrieval of the doll they believe Susy has. Mike, pretending to be an old friend of her husband’s, manages to get Susy to trust him. Confident that the doll is in the apt., the three men play a game of musical characters intimidating and frightening Susy into believing that her husband was having an affair with the dead woman and that finding the doll is the only thing that will save his life. When their plan falls apart and the doll is still not located, the truly evil Roat takes matters into his own hands culminating in a chilling, one on one, final confrontation.

Video:
I found the video presentation to be rather inconsistent. Shot in Technicolor, I found for the most part, the colors to be vibrant. However, there were many scenes where color was rather flat and washed out. Skin tones looked good though. Throughout the entire movie I noticed light mosquito noise. During the opening credits there is a heavy light shimmering effect. At approximately the 11:35 mark, I detected dirt which was noticeable for about 3-4 seconds of the movie. Contrast was good for the most part and black levels were fine. Grain for the most part was slight and many of the close ups were beautiful. The majority of this transfer looked great although there were scenes which I feel did suffer due to noise and dirt.


Audio:
The DD Mono soundtrack is solid and dialogue was very clear. I was not able to detect any hiss or problems. Most of the movie is dialogue driven with the exception of the final scenes. There is a scene toward the end where Susy goes around trying to sabotage the apartment and the crescendos get quite loud which comes across nicely.


Special Features:
A Look in the dark – is a 9 min commentary by Mel Ferrer and Alan Arkin discussing the film, the characters, and Audrey’s departure from her regular roles in doing this film. Alan Arkin’s commentary is very interesting. Ferrer goes on to discuss the screening with Jack Warner and how Jack jumped out of his seat during one of the final scenes as apparently did most movie goers.

Stage Frantics – Screen text. This provides information regarding the play on Broadway from February 2nd, 1966, running for 374 performances, and staring Lee Remick and Robert Duvall. The movie opened at the Radio City Music Hall on October 26th, 1967. The play was revived on Broadway on April 5th, 1998 and starred Quentin Tarantino and Marisa Tomei. The play, however, was short lived and ran for only 97 performances.

Cast and Crew – Screen text

Theatrical Trailer

Warning – This is interesting. Teaser trailer warning that the last 8 minutes of the movies final scene would be in complete darkness. People were asked not to smoke or leave there seats as no one would be seated during this time.


Final Thoughts:
It is easy to see why Audrey Hepburn received her fifth Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Susy. Hepburn draws you right into what it must be like to be suddenly blind in a sighted world. The everyday tasks that are not so easy for a blind person, the fear of a fire you won’t be able to see and the increase in awareness of your other senses. She truly makes you frightened for her. You feel her terror. Surprisingly, Alan Arkin was not nominated for his role as Roat. He gives a most chilling portrayal of a psychotic killer who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Shot almost completely in the apartment itself, this movie doesn’t need fancy sets. The film, itself, is a must see for those who love thrillers. The music throughout the movie, by Henry Mancini, certainly adds to the drama of each moment. That being said, I have some difficulty in giving this movie a highly recommended, when it comes to transfer quality. It is however, a classic that shouldn’t be overlooked.




Release Date: August 5th, 2003
My Top 25 Noirs:

25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

#2 of 4 OFFLINE   DeeF

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Posted August 01 2003 - 03:39 AM

You might want to change the phrase "regular rolls" to "regular roles."

#3 of 4 OFFLINE   Joel C

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Posted August 01 2003 - 08:12 AM

Posted Image At least it was an amusing typo.

Good technical review. That big block of plot summary was almost impossible to read, though. Put some line breaks in or something, maybe?
Joel
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"Why I laugh?"

#4 of 4 OFFLINE   Arnie G

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Posted August 01 2003 - 12:02 PM

Thanks, great review. I'll pick this one up for sure. Posted Image

I hate to be critical, but maybe you give too much away?
I've got my own Toto