The Set of 400: #209 – My Favorite Heroin Stuffed Doll

Today! Because there was a murder around here last night, they found the body this morning. A lady from Scarsdale –

Wait Until Dark (1967)

Directed by Terence Young

Starring Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin (x3), Richard Crenna, Jack Weston, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (x2), Julie Herrod, Samantha Jones

Apparently my favorite movie from 1967 (take that #263 Jungle Book and #311 The Graduate!), Wait Until Dark was a tremendous play by Frederick Knott (that I secretly and not so secretly burned to stage, back in my theater days), turned into a very effective locked-in movie, featuring the best acting Audrey Hepburn would ever do. Many of her most famous roles largely required her to show up – not saying she wasn’t talented, but light comedies like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Sabrina and Roman Holiday aren’t exactly showcases for towering talent. Or maybe I just give more credit to drama/thriller acting – which probably isn’t fair. You know what, forget what I said. Audrey Hepburn is fine.

Hell, I couldn’t pull off this look

But she really is never better than here, in my opinion. She’s in virtually every minute of the film – after the expository opening scene among the villains – playing the blind heroine Suzy, defending her apartment from wily murderers and thieves, led by the malevolent hipster Harry Roat, played with ’60s glee in a rare bad guy turn from Alan Arkin. Watching her work her way through the incessant lies and deceptions from this group is fascinating, and builds to an almost unbearably suspenseful climax.

The supporting group is equally solid, with Crenna and Weston doing great work trying to pry the location of the missing heroin-filled doll away from Suzy (okay, it’s a weird plot), but it was Efrem Zimbalist Jr. who would get a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Quick – if you’ve seen this movie, name one significant thing Sam Hendrix does in this movie? He’s there, but he’s, like, barely involved, and he got nominated, over Arkin, Crenna, and Weston? That’s kinda ludicrous. Look, nothing against Efrem Jr., he’s totally committed to the very slight portion of the plot that comes his way, but this is one of the more ridiculous nominations in the history of everything, I would venture. Stupid Golden Globes.

This is basically the extent of his performance – Sam just doesn’t have a very central role in things

Hepburn was nominated for a Globe and an Oscar for this role, but despite it not landing a ton of films on this list, it was a crazy deep awards year, between Bonnie and Clyde, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, The Graduate, Cool Hand Luke, and In the Heat of the Night, so Wait Until Dark got largely edged out. Too bad! It does feature the Best Surprise Closet Bodybag ever captured on film! Also, my Fav ’67!

Zimbalist joins the Two-Timers following his appearance in #276 Hot Shots! (where he should’ve been nominated for a Pulitzer, I guess), while Arkin advances to the Three-Timers with his roles in #307 Return of Captain Invincible and #274 Argo. Spotlight!

It is a very stylized performance, Roat

Coming Monday! Avenge me, Hemp Knight!

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