While creepy monsters can send chills straight to the spine, there's nothing quite as thrilling as the perfectly simple fright. Thanks to the master Alfred Hitchcock, as well as a number of other filmmakers over the years, we've been showered in an array of scenarios so believable that every shadow becomes eerie, and every noise, threatening. They're the scares that could happen to any one of us on an unlucky day; they are the dangers that await us when we're alone and in the dark.
For tonight's double feature, I wanted to go old school with chills that go back to the '50s and '60s, centered on New York's Greenwich Village. These films might be decades old, but they hold premises that make them worthy, unforgettable classics. Without further ado, I give you: Rear Window and Wait Until Dark.
James Stewart's L.B. Jeffries is a photojournalist confined to a wheelchair in his home while a broken leg mends, spying on neighbors cross the courtyard to bide the time. However, what starts as a time-waster quickly becomes an obsession as Jeffries is sure that the traveling salesman (Raymond Burr) across the way has killed his wife. While the photographer is able to convince his nurse (Thelma Ritter) and girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) of this assumption, he cannot convince his friend and detective (Wendell Corey), and helplessly watches as the circumstantial evidence mounts.
Perhaps if films like Disturbia and Cherish had taken a cue from Hitchcock, they would have received at least a little critical love. The auteur shot almost an entire film from one point of view and made it an intriguing, nerve-wracking cinematic adventure. Even when the story moves beyond the walls of Jeffries' apartment, the camera stays put. When Lisa sneaks out to investigate the salesman's home, we don't follow, adding to the helplessness without ever seeming overdone -- the perfect balance of intrigue and determined purpose.
Ross Bagdasarian, also known as David Seville, played the Songwriter.
The film was inspired by real-life murderer Patrick Mahon.
Kelly and Stewart kiss.
A UCF documentary about the film.
That '70s Show spoofs Rear Window.
Cary Grant presents an Honorary Oscar to James Stewart.
Wait Until Dark
Ten years ago, a revival of Frederick Knott's play appeared in New York, featuring the likes of Marisa Tomei and Quentin Tarantino. But 31 years before that, we had the Oscar-nominated cinematic version. Audrey Hepburn starred as Susy, a blind woman who is targeted by three criminals after her husband unknowingly transports a drug-filled doll for a woman -- one who is soon murdered by her husband, one of the criminals. Since their target is blind, the trio assumes fake identities and attempt to con Susy in order to find the missing drugs. She, however, proves to be too smart for the fiendish three.
This film is not only great for its eerie premise that preys on our fears of the dark, but also for its cast. While headlined by Hepburn, Wait Until Dark also starred Alan Arkin as the creepy husband, Roat, with Richard Crenna (Trautman, Rambo) and Jack Weston (Max Kellerman, Dirty Dancing).
The climax between Hepburn and Arkin is considered one of Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments.
George C. Scott was considered for Arkin's role, Robert Redford was considered for Richard Crenna's, and Julie Andrews was considered for Susy.
When the film was released in theaters, their lights were darkened "to the legal limit," and each went out as the light bulbs were smashed. Talk about creepy.
"A Look in the Dark" featurette.
Having a chat...