A first rate thriller from regular James Bond helmer Terence Young, this has Audrey Hepburn against type as a blind girl terrorized by a gang of dangerous hoodlums trying to uncover a stash of heroin hidden somewhere in her apartment. Flamboyant performances, a clever script and a shattering climax makes this a superior nerve-jangler.
Efrem Zimbalist Jr
Heroin hidden inside a child's doll brings three crooks to Audrey Hepburn's door - and when they realise she's blind concoct an elaborate scam to keep her occupied while they ransack her place searching for the white gold.
Improbable disguises repeatedly bring the hoods to Hepburn's door, but as she begins to smell a rat the danger grows.
Based on the play by Frederick Knott, who also wrote Dial M For Murder, this is a playfully vicious Hitchcockian thriller, that opens with a murder and leaves many more bodies buried by the time the credits roll.
An insane plot contains more loose ends than a bucket of spaghetti (why doesn't Hepburn refuse to answer the door once she realizes something is afoot?) but the fun here is watching the plucky heroine's realization that she is in peril, recognizing the squeak of new shoes that gives away one character's disguise, and using her surroundings to beat the baddies.
One of cinema's first modern horror films, Wait Until Dark is shot in natural colour in contemporary settings, with recognizably human bogeymen, including Richard Crenna as an unctuous conman and Alan Arkin as a devilishly smart psycho with a nice line in cool shades and ugly switchblades.
Director Young, a veteran of big budget location shooting from his three Bond films (including Dr No), sidesteps the trappings of stageplay adaptations with inventive direction and a roving camera that keeps the tension bubbling through lengthy dialogue scenes.
As the sun sets, Young comes into his own as the apartment sinks into dark shadows, notching up the suspense as Hepburn must use her one true weapon, darkness, against the lethal Arkin.
The climax, as the psycho attempts to silence the blind girl, is a belter played out almost entirely in pitch black.
Not recognized as the nail-biting classic it is, Wait Until Dark has left its mark on terror cinema since, from The Silence of the Lambs to Jennifer 8 to Panic Room.