Wait Until Dark (1967)

I first saw this movie at a Halloween party when I was 14. There were lots of people and boys and stuff and I dressed up as a pirate but I had glasses at the time so I wore my glasses over my eye patch. 14 was a good age for me. So we watched this movie. As anyone who has ever come in contact with a large group of 8th graders before could probably guess, the party goers talked loudly throughout the entire film. Unfortunately, nothing gets me in a huff faster than when people talk through a movie. So while everyone else was being sociable and forming fond memories,  I was sulking about how I couldn't hear anything and how dumb everyone was.  Then I went home and came to the conclusion that I should give up on trying to have friends and just accept that I'll be alone for the rest of my life.

Anyway, I re-watched the film last week. 14-year-old me wasn't missing much, as it turns out. The whole thing is tediously staged, with tv-movie production values and cringeworthy dialogue. Ms. Audrey tries her darndest, but she really doesn't have much of chance given the weakness of the material and her limited range. Alan Arkin is pretty good, but he's not enough to save it.

However, the sub-par nature of the production was not the main problem I had with the film. I was most grumpy about its representations of gender. Yes, I am predictable in my grumpiness. The main character is demure, submissive, and completely dependent on her husband.  She spends the whole film pining for and trying to please this dude she's married to, who in turn infantilizes her, disregards her concerns, and generally treats her like a pretty and amusing accessory. At one point in the film, she laments how she can't do the "important" things that she used to do before her blindness causing accident. These things include "making souffles, picking ties, and choosing wallpaper".

Well yeah, except for the fact that Audrey here, like in most of her films as well as in her personal life, is presented as a feminine ideal. She's a paragon of womanly virtue, with her timidity, wide-eyes, and diminutiveness. The men in the film admire her delicacy. One of them praises her, calling her "quite a woman" when she does anything halfway intelligent. The whole blindness thing just exacerbates the problem. It's not just a plot point, it's representative of how the film thinks women should behave. Hepburn's character goes through life unaware of her surroundings, dependent upon others for information and her general well-being. AS SHOULD YOU, LADIES!

Point is, I don't agree.

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