…In relentless pursuit of all performances nominated and won!
Audrey Hepburn goes head-to-head against creepy villain Alan Arkin in the 1967 thriller, Wait Until Dark, based upon Frederick Knott’s stage play of the same name. In her 5th and final nominated performance, Hepburn plays blind woman Suzy Hendrix, married to a successful photographer and living in a claustrophobic basement apartment in New York. Things get sticky when her husband is given a doll stuffed with cocaine at the airport, and Suzy becomes an unwitting victim of circumstance when some nasty fellows (Arkin, Richard Crenna, and Jack Weston) come calling to recover the drug-riddled doll at the Hendrix apartment.
Ever playing the wide-eyed, beautiful innocent, Hepburn is extremely well-cast as Suzy. She uses her naivete to perfection in the role. However, even in her disability, she is not to be taken for granted. In one particular moment, Hepburn completely darkens her apartment to turn the tables and ‘blind’ her assailants. This is when we truly see how smart and crafty her heroine is. It’s a well-written role for any actress to tackle, and a nice counterpoint to some of Hepburn’s earlier roles. Though certainly worthy of her nomination, Hepburn lost the 1967 Oscar to another Hepburn (no relation, in case you’re wondering) – the great Kate – in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
For an intriguing and on-the-edge-of-your-seat film, don’t miss Wait Until Dark the next time it runs on Turner Classic Movies. Alan Arkin will give you the chills. Even better yet, see the more gripping stage performance, if you can. I was fortunate to see one of my good friends – Ruth Arnell – in a production of this a couple years back. It’s even more arresting in person.