Wait Until Dark (film)

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Wait Until Dark
Wait Until Dark 1967.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTerence Young
Produced byMel Ferrer
Screenplay byRobert Carrington
Jane-Howard Carrington
Based onWait Until Dark
by Frederick Knott
StarringAudrey Hepburn
Alan Arkin
Richard Crenna
Music byHenry Mancini
CinematographyCharles Lang
Edited byGene Milford
Distributed byWarner Bros.-Seven Arts
Release date
  • October 26, 1967 (1967-10-26) (United States; limited release)
Running time
108 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$3 million[1]
Box office$17,550,741[2]

Wait Until Dark is a 1967 American thriller film directed by Terence Young and produced by Mel Ferrer.[3] It stars Audrey Hepburn as a young blind woman, Alan Arkin as a violent criminal searching for some drugs, and Richard Crenna as another criminal, supported by Jack Weston, Julie Herrod, and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. The screenplay by Robert Carrington and Jane-Howard Carrington is based on the 1966 play Wait Until Dark by Frederick Knott.

Audrey Hepburn was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1967. Zimbalist Jr. was nominated for a Golden Globe in the supporting category. The film is ranked #55 on AFI's 2001 100 Years…100 Thrills list, and its climax is ranked tenth on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments.[4]


A woman named Lisa (Samantha Jones) takes a flight from Montreal to New York City, smuggling bags of heroin sewn inside an old-fashioned doll. When she disembarks, Lisa becomes worried upon seeing a man watching her at the John F. Kennedy International Airport and gives the doll to a fellow passenger, professional photographer Sam Hendrix (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) for safekeeping. She is roughly escorted away by the man. Later, when she calls Sam about the doll, he and his wife Susy (Audrey Hepburn), who is blind from an auto accident, are unable to find it.

A few days later, con artists Mike Talman (Richard Crenna) and Carlino (Jack Weston) arrive at Sam and Susy's apartment, believing it to be Lisa's. Harry Roat, Jr. (Alan Arkin), the man who met Lisa at the airport, arrives to persuade Talman and Carlino to help him find the doll. After the con men discover Lisa's body, Roat blackmails them into helping him dispose of it and convinces them to help him find the doll. The next day, Roat sends Sam on a photography assignment. Once Susy is alone, the criminals begin an elaborate con game, posing as different people to win Susy's trust. Implying that Lisa has been murdered and Sam will be suspected, the men persuade Susy to help them find the doll. Mike gives her the number for the phone booth across the street as his own after falsely warning her of a police car outside.

Susy grows suspicious of Carlino and Roat. Gloria (Julie Herrod), a girl who lives upstairs and who had borrowed the doll earlier, sneaks in to return it and tells Susy that there is no police car outside. Susy finally realizes that the three are criminals and hides the doll. She tells them that the doll is at Sam's studio and the three leave after Roat cuts the telephone cord. Carlino stays behind to stand guard outside the building. Susy sends Gloria to the bus station to wait for Sam. When she discovers that the telephone cord has been cut, she prepares to defend herself by putting the criminals in the dark along with her, breaking all the bulbs in the apartment except for the safelight. When Mike returns, he realizes that she knows the truth and demands the doll, but she refuses to cooperate. Mike has come to admire Susy for her quiet strength and ability to stand up to them, despite her disability. He admits to her that he and his confederates are part of a criminal plot, while Roat is the particular danger. He assures her that he has sent Carlino to kill Roat. However, having anticipated their plan, Roat has killed Carlino instead, and he then kills Mike on the doorstep of Susy's apartment.

Intent on acquiring the doll, Roat threatens to set the apartment on fire. Susy finally agrees to give him the doll but throws a chemical at Roat's face and unplugs the safelight as the apartment is plunged into darkness. Roat obtains light by opening the refrigerator. Susy, realizing that she has lost the battle, pulls the doll out from its hiding place and hands it to him. While Roat is distracted with it, Susy is able to arm herself with a large kitchen knife. Roat then brings Susy to the bedroom to rape her, but she stabs him and flees. She is unable to escape the chained front door and stumbles to the kitchen window to scream for help, but Roat grabs her ankle. She wrenches free and conceals herself behind the refrigerator door. Just as he stands to stab her, she unplugs the refrigerator, leading to total darkness yet again. Susy screams in the dark. The police arrive with Sam and Gloria, and Susy is found, unharmed, behind the refrigerator door. She embraces Sam, crying. Roat is finally dead.




To immerse viewers in the suspense of the climactic scene, movie theater owners dimmed their lights to the legal limits, and then turned them off, one by one until the audiences were in complete darkness.


The film was one of the most popular of its year, earning North American rentals of $7,350,000.[6]

Bosley Crowther called it a "barefaced melodrama, without character revelation of any sort, outside of the demonstration of a person with the fortitude to overcome an infirmity"; he liked Hepburn's performance, saying "the sweetness with which Miss Hepburn plays the poignant role, the quickness with which she changes and the skill with which she manifests terror attract sympathy and anxiety to her and give her genuine solidity in the final scenes".[7]

Time magazine said the film had a "better scenario, set and cast" than the play's Broadway production that preceded it, and while "the story is as full of holes as a kitchen colander", "Hepburn's honest, posture-free performance helps to suspend the audience's disbelief" and she is "immensely aided by the heavies: Jack Weston, Richard Crenna, and Alan Arkin....With virtuosity, Hepburn and Arkin collaborate to revive an old theme—The-Helpless-Girl-Against-the-Odds—that has been out of fashion since Dorothy McGuire and Barbara Stanwyck screamed for help in The Spiral Staircase and Sorry, Wrong Number.[8]

Roger Ebert gave the movie three and a half stars and wrote "Miss Hepburn is perhaps too simple and trusting, and Alan Arkin (as a sadistic killer) is not particularly convincing in an exaggerated performance. But there are some nice, juicy passages of terror (including that famous moment when every adolescent girl in the theater screams), and after a slow start the plot does seduce you".[9]

The film currently holds a 95% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was ranked tenth on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments for its riveting climax.[10]


Award Category Subject Result
Academy Award Best Actress Audrey Hepburn Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. Nominated
Laurel Awards Golden Laurel for Female Dramatic Performance Audrey Hepburn 3rd place
Golden Laurel for Drama Film 5th place

American Film Institute recognition

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hannan, Brian (2016). Coming Back to a Theater Near You: A History of Hollywood Reissues, 1914-2014. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., pg. 178, ISBN 978-1-4766-2389-4.
  2. ^ "Wait Until Dark, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
  3. ^ "Wait Until Dark". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  4. ^ "The 100 Scariest Movie Moments: 100 Scariest Moments in Movie History - Official Bravo TV Site". Bravo. Archived from the original on 2007-10-30.
  5. ^ "Wait Until Dark". Film Score Monthly. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
  6. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1968", Variety, 8 January 1969 p 15. Please note this figure is a rental accruing to distributors.
  7. ^ Bosley Crowther (October 27, 1967). "Audrey Hepburn Stars in Wait Until Dark". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
  8. ^ "The Return of the Helpless Girl". Time. November 3, 1967. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
  9. ^ Roger Ebert (February 26, 1968). "Wait Until Dark". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
  10. ^ "Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments". Lists of Bests. Archived from the original on 2010-02-18. Retrieved March 8, 2012.

External links[edit]