Susie Hendrix is blind, her husband is away on business, and three thugs are in her apartment looking for a doll stuffed with drugs. One of the thieves, their leader Harry Roat, is full prepared to kill for the prize.
An outstanding thriller based on a stageplay (by Frederick Knott) that fits so much better on the screen because, as well as the expansive, cinema is really good at claustrophobia. The genius of the concept is to pitch its trio of villains, chasing a drug haul concealed in a doll placed on the heroine’s now absent husband, against a blind woman. Not only is it the obvious vulnerability of the situation, it’s the chance for manipulation as the hoods claims to be variously friends of sightless Susie’s husband and the police on his trail.
Audrey Hepburn is cast to perfection as Susie, she is so frail and delicate, and flawlessly portrays the idea of women trapped in the prison cell of her own head. She pulls us in, charging us to protect her when there is nothing we can do. A devilish Alan Arkin leads Richard Crenna and Jack Weston as the nefarious thugs plying the con game, without knowing that their quarry (stashed in the house by a now dead colleague) is not there. It’s a dilemma without a solution, another twist in this nightmare game.
Bond alumnus Terrence Young plays some equally cruel visual tricks to torment the audience. He keeps his camera so tight into the action, the space feels to be shrinking; the film barely leaves the apartment keeping the tension wracked tight as a wire coil. There is some magnificent subtlety as Susie searches rooms to find out if she is alone, tortuous sequences played nearly silently. Yet, none of these brilliantly orchestrated scenes have anything on the finale, when Susie turns tables on her captors by smashing all the light-bulbs and plunging them all into blindness. The one place she has the advantage.
A genuinely gripping thriller from the late sixties.