Wait Until Dark: The Premake
Alan Arkin had been on screen for all of ten seconds when my mind started wandering. If Wait Until Dark had the fortune to be made two decades earlier, Peter Lorre would have owned his role. There’s no question. It’s not that Arkin didn’t bring a sleazy danger to the character of the quiet, psychopathic Roat, but Lorre would have elevated that part to greatness.
Of course, now it’s the 1940s and the other cast members would have to be swapped out, too. For Audrey Hepburn’s blind, but smart and self-sufficient Suzy, Rosalind Russell, hot of His Girl Friday, would be a wonderful choice. Her career could have taken a turn for the dramatic, and the wit and bravado she portrayed in many of her comic and musical roles could help her explore darker, more character oriented choices. For the role of Mike, none other than Joseph Cotten, whose brilliant work in Gaslight and Shadow of a Doubt makes him perfect to charm and con Suzy into giving up the heroin stuffed McGuffin. The part of the slightly unhinged former detective, Carvino, would go to an up-and-coming Jay C. Flippen, a man with a face and a build that screams “don’t mess with me.” Directing duties would go to Alfred Hitchcock, who would have no doubt insisted the entire film be constrained to one set to heighten the tension and that Russell dye her hair blonde.
However, If we’re talking a modern remake, that’s another story. I’d stray from the norm with Roat, and cast David Cross, who I’ve always felt is a great dramatic actor just waiting to be given a juicy part. Cross’ tendency to go over-the-top in his comedic work could give Roat an added edge previously neglected. For Suzy, I’d offer Sandra Oh, an underutilized actress who has more than proven her range in films such as Rabbit Hole and Sideways. Get this woman out of medical scrubs, please! Brain Cranston would take the male lead as Mike, bringing with him all the wonderful nuance of Walter White, and for his sidekick, Benicio Del Toro, silent and terrifying.
I’ve never had any problem with remakes, as long as they’re not complete hack jobs, which, unfortunately most of them are, and I think Wait Until Dark would be perfect in the hands of say, Darren Aronofsky, who gives Polanski a run for his money as far as edge of the seat paranoia goes, but getting a premake off the ground, for any film, would be a glorious moment in cinema. Think about it. Transformers premade using only 1950s actors and FX, or The Artist as, dare I say it, a silent picture? Why no one in Hollywood will shell out money for these brilliant ideas is beyond me. I’ll take my genius overseas, thank you very much.