The best movies Hitchcock never made
Original release 27-8-2011
Wait Until Dark
In 1959, Hitch was set to make a film with Audrey Hepburn. Those plans fell through and the director moved on to a little film about a backwater motel and a boy called Norman. While we shall never really know what such a collaboration would have looked like, 1967's WAIT UNTIL DARK gives a good indication of what could have been.
A battle of wills between a sadistic drug pusher and a blind housewife, this is a nasty little thriller with a cruel, downbeat vibe and a highly unscrupulous antagonist.
Bafflingly obscure today, it features one of Hepburn's best performances and an absolutely hypnotizing Alan Arkin as the terrifying Harry Roat Jr. Directed by Bond veteran Terence Young, the film looks fantastically bleak - most obvious in the brilliant decision to set the entire film within the claustrophobic confines of a basement apartment. The final 15 minutes are a tour-de-force which elevates the whole enterprise to the next level.
When Hitchcock saw this film, he said that it was one of two films he wished he had made.
Chronicling the budding relationship between a small town school teacher and the local butcher who may just be responsible for the real butchering of several young girls from the community, Claude Chabrol's film is more concerned with exploring the complex and ambiguous bond between its central couple than thriller cliches.
A blonde heroine in jeoporady. A psychologically damaged hero who tries to save her. A diabolically evil antagonist who cannot be stopped. A plot as tight as a drum, with some appropriately nasty twists to keep pulses racing. Okay, so it doesn't completely fit the bill. But one can imagine Hitch grinning with delight at the glorious implacability of its villain, and the mental and physical obstacles its heroine has to overcome.
Featuring Cary Grant and Hepburn (again), CHARADE can't help but bear more than a passing resemblance to Hitch's more escapist thrillers (generally featuring Grant) like TO CATCH A THIEF and NORTH BY NORTHWEST.
Featuring a spiffy title sequence and cracking jazz score by Harry Mancini, the film is a zippy thriller with some memorable setpieces and some crackling repartee between the two leads. While the plot unfolds at a good clip, the film's best moments are in the blossoming romance between Hepburn's confused widow and Grant's mysterious investigator. Much of the fun comes from the obvious disparity in age between the two stars, and a clever reversal of roles, with a nervous Grant attempting to deflect the attentions of the agressive Hepburn.