Wait Until Dark
is a mystery/thriller play by Frederick Knott. The heroine is recently blind Susy Hendrix, a Greenwich Village housewife who becomes the target of three thugs searching for the heroin hidden in a doll, which her husband transported from Canada as a favor to a woman who since has been murdered. The trio tries to convince Susy her spouse has been implicated in the crime and the only way to protect him is to surrender the doll. More murder and mayhem ensue when she refuses. It was originally produced on Broadway in 1966, and made into a film
the next year starring Audrey Hepburn
and Alan Arkin
It was revived on Broadway in 1998 with a cast that included Marisa Tomei as Susy, Quentin Tarantino
as Roat, and Stephen Lang of Avatar
fame as Mike Talman.
Another revival in October of 2013 at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles moved the setting back to 1944, giving it a distinctly Film Noir
flavor among other changes.
A film adaptation called "Penthouse North" was released in 2014, starring Michael Keaton
Wait Until Dark provides examples of:
- Action Survivor: Susy at the end. She's a nice, unassuming lady who gets dragged into a situation with her life at risk by three conmen against her will. She manages to beat her opponent, killing him before he can kill her, but it's a close, close thing.
- Affably Evil: Talman and Carlino.
- Anti-Villain: Talman.
- Ax-Crazy: Roat.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Gloria. She gets better.
- Chekhov's Gun: The icebox. Not to mention "Geraldine" the switchblade.
- The Con
- Con Man: Roat, Talman, and Carlino
- Disability Superpower Lampshaded, really. Roat wears two elaborate disguises to pretend he is two different people, for no apparent reason, other than that's what he does when he pulls the con on other people, or maybe just for the benefit of the girl who also lives in the building. Since Susy can't see the disguises, there's really no point in wearing them, and in fact, she recognizes that he is the same person, because she isn't distracted by them.
- Famous Last Words:
- "Hey... no see, no tell." (Mike Talman)
- "I'll help you, Susy!" (Mr. Roat)
- Faux Affably Evil: Roat.
- Foreshadowing: There are many: the icebox, which plays an unusually important role for an icebox, and is mentioned in several different contexts, early in the movie, and Susy's lines "I don't want Gloria today, I don't need her"; "What if I get [killed] as a poor, defenseless blind lady whose husband is off in Asbury Park?" "Do I have to be the world's champion blind lady? [her husband says "Yes!"] then I will"; and "I wish I could do...important things," followed by a list of things she wishes she could do, that are not very important compared to saving her own life, and ridding the world of an evil criminal at the same time.
- Genre Blindness: Ironically, not Susy.
- The Ghost: Lisa.
- Handicapped Badass: Susy, a blind woman who managed to take advantage of the fact that she is used to not being able to see, while Roat is not, and smash out all the lights and cover the floor in gasoline, guaranteeing he can't see a thing. The only thing she didn't think of was the light in the refrigerator, and while it comes close, she still manages to kill Roat in the end.
- Heel-Face Turn: Richard Crenna's character seems to be doing this before Roat kills him, turning it into a Heel Face Door Slam.
- The Hunter Becomes The Hunted
- I Lied: "Did I?? I must have had my fingers crossed."
- Jump Scare: Roat comes out of nowhere to grab Susy by the ankle.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: Talman, by Roat
- Let's Get Dangerous: Susy turning out the lights to turn the tables on Roat.
- MacGuffin: The doll.
- The Mark: Susy.
- Meganekko: Gloria, much to her displeasure.
- No Name Given: Roat, Mike, and Carlino are all made-up aliases assigned by Roat. The script simply calls them by those names because they have to call them something.
- Oh, Crap: After Susy's able to kill off most of the light sources in her apartment, Roat figures out that refrigerator has a working light...
- Only in It for the Money: Mike and Carlino don't have anything against Susy and honestly seem to want to avoid hurting her—they're just in it for a quick buck.
- Parental Substitute: Sam for Gloria. Eventually, Susy is, too.
- Plot Tailored to the Party: the climax of the film involves Susy breaking all the lamps in the apartment so that the thugs can't find her. Her plan is thwarted when Roat finds the refrigerator.
- The Power Of Trust: A lot of the con rides on Susy not trusting Sam. While her faith does waver, she does trust him. She also trusts Gloria, and Mike (and is devastated when she realizes Mike is in on it, too). Mike and Carlino seem to trust each other, but they don't trust Roat at all. With good reason, seeing as how he kills them both. Roat doesn't appear to trust them very much either.
- Protect This House
- Punch Clock Villain: Talman and Carlino.
- Red Herring: The safe. For all it's brought up, it has very little importance later.
- Scare Chord: Oh boy!
- The film's music score, incidentally, was written by Henry Mancini.
- Setting Update: Inverted with the 2013 revival, which moved the time period back a couple decades to 1944. Among the several changes to fit the new setting, the doll is now stuffed with diamonds rather than heroin.
- A Simple Plan: The con men try to scam Susy into revealing where the doll went, by posing as cops and trying to hint that Suzy's husband was having an affair with a murdered woman. For a blind woman, Susy quickly senses things are amiss - she can tell one "cop" is wiping away evidence - and it drives the sociopathic Roat into an even simpler plan...
- Sinister Shades: Donned by Roat for much of the film.
- The Spook: Roat (which is not his real name).
- Step into the Blinding Fight: In the climax a blind woman battles against a killer in her apartment; she destroys all the lamps so he is disoriented but she can react just fine.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The three cons aren't entirely trusting each other. Roat has to trick them into helping him scam Susy to find out where the doll filled with heroin got to.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: when Roat figures the other two con men are no longer needed, and convinced (rightly) that his "partners" are turning on him...