Dark, be not proud, though some have cause
To fear when you fall, for you’re not that bad.
For those with blind eyes, you’re vexing a tad,
But not so much when all live by your laws.
You’re at your worst when men barge in because
They want some drugs that they can’t seem to find.
It’s hard to tell their truthfulness of mind
When I can’t see their flimsily-veiled flaws.
Thou art slave to caves, blinds, clouds, and Audrey Hepburn
And dost with broken lights and switchblades dwell,
But lighters and fridge doors can your shadow quell,
And thwart your hopeful fortunes, which (yep) turn.
One long night past, with you and deadly men,
And I won’t dare unlock the door again.

(In following today’s NaPoWriMo prompt, today’s poem is a parody/satire poem, in this case of John Donne’s “Death, Be Not Proud.”)

The movies have taught us quite a lot about stranger danger. Innerspace bade us to be wary of sudden injections, or else you may end up with Dennis Quaid inside your body. Twilight Zone: The Movie warned us against hitchhikers, even those as friendly-looking as Dan Aykroyd. And this film, Wait until Dark, teaches us not to accept heroin-filled dolls from people you just met on a transatlantic flight, especially if you have a blind wife and habitually leave your front door unlocked. Such is the setup for the most Hitchcockian film I’ve seen that doesn’t bear his name.

After a coworker recommended this one-room thriller to me, I was intrigued to see the lovely Audrey Hepburn in a less glamorous role, as housewife Susy Hendrix, a damsel in distress who is easily distressed due to her blindness. Her tense performance garnered an Oscar nomination, and, even if some of her reactions seem overacted, she does it well enough to never tip into histrionics. Alan Arkin is outstanding as Mr. Roat, one of the original creepy, single-minded killers with a bad haircut (you know the type), and his character might have become one of the great iconic villains had he benefited from more screen time. Richard Crenna and Jack Weston are also well and good as Roat’s bribed/blackmailed allies.

The main issue with this film is the suspension of disbelief throughout the middle. The movie starts out with a compelling setup and certainly ends well, but the bulk of the plot involves an elaborate ploy by the three baddies to trick Mrs. Hendrix into searching for the missing doll. Not only is it hard to believe that they would go to all that trouble, but Hepburn’s naiveté is equally improbable. She at first seems to immediately accept whoever walks through her door, and, though she proves to be more wise and perceptive than she first appears, her initial gullibility is just one of the film’s plot holes.

Yet once all the subterfuge is over and the narrative builds to its semi-famous climax, it becomes sheer tension. Let’s just say that the finale earns the “Dark” in the title as it morphs from Hitchcock into a precursor to Halloween. Whatever the faults of the film’s middle, the end certainly deserves a watch and teaches that other important movie lesson: just because you stab someone doesn’t mean they’re dead!

Best line: (Susy) “How would you like to do something difficult and terribly dangerous?”   (Gloria, her young helper) “I’d love it!”

Rank: List Runner-Up

© 2015 S. G. Liput

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