Saturday, 25 October 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1967: Alan Arkin in Wait Until Dark

Alan Arkin did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Roat in Wait Until Dark.

Wait Until Dark is an effective thriller about three criminals who are trying to find a doll filled with drugs that ended up apparently at the apartment of an unknowing blind woman Susy (Audrey Hepburn).

Although I did give some praise last review to the HFPA for successfully recognizing Richard Attenborough as an actor I sorta have to take that away when referring to this film. Oddly the HFPA did nominate someone for Wait Until Dark but it was not Alan Arkin, nor was it even Richard Crenna as the most sympathetic of the criminals, but rather Efrem Zimbalist who plays Susy's husband Sam. Zimbalist isn't bad really but his role is so unsubstantial that it certainly leaves you scratching tour head when thinking about the nomination. I guess Arkin maybe suffered from category confusion, which would is ridiculous, but probably more likely the nature of the role prevented him from being recognized. According to Arkin himself part of the reason he got the role is that few wanted it due to its sinister nature, and that same sinister nature is probably what prevented him from being nominated for any awards.

One more random tidbit before I get on with the review is that Quentin Tarantino played this part in a stage revival that was at the very end of his overexposure, now that might been something really horrifying to watch. Anyway, Alan Arkin plays the man who refers to himself as Roat who is the worst of the three criminals. This made abundantly clear when one of his earliest actions is that he murdered the original drug mule off screen and black mails her associates with her murder to ensure that they work with him to get the doll. Also the visual presentation of the character alone pretty much set stage for the character with his small round sunglasses he often wears, the truly bizarre haircut that Arkin sports, and the way he often suddenly appears entrenched in shadow. With all of that already set up Arkin rather intelligently does not really try to play up the villainy of Roat any more than what is already set up in fact Arkin takes kinda a relaxed approach to the part.

In his first conversation with the other two criminals Arkin rather cleverly commands the scene even though his whole manner as Roat is that of a man who is quite sure of every step of his plan. Arkin's easy going style here is surprisingly effective in creating the callousness of Roat. Arkin rather strangely is able to be quite menacing in this first scene while delivery almost every part of the chat as if he is just having a simple conversation with the men. This is even in the case when Roat tells them that he murdered their old criminal associate since he felt she was trying to cut him out on their business. Arkin brings such a casual sinister quality to the part by making the amoral quality of the man just so naturally a part of him. Arkin shows that Roat does not need to try to be evil rather Roat just innately is evil so no reason to force it out of him. Arkin's curious approach pays off quite well and just from his opening scene you know there is hanging knife over the rest of the characters.

Roat does not strike right away as the men first put on act which they think will force Susy to reveal the doll. Roat plays two parts in this charade the first being Roat Sr. who demands to see Susy's husband angrily and funny enough Arkin kinda does his curmudgeon act that he's probably best known for now. He also plays Roat Jr. which Arkin plays an extremely timid man who is both concerned over his father's outrageous behavior while also being concerned that his wife is having an affair with Susy's husband. Arkin plays these in a slightly absurd fashion and more as caricature than characters, but this absolutely makes sense since Roat is not trying to win an Oscar. Also Susy is suppose to suspect something is up so Arkin slightly off approach is the right one. Arkin is enjoyable in these scenes but he's also quite good in portraying the true Roat in his eyes while he is pretending to be these characters.

The finale of the film ends up being a most unusual battle between Roat and Susy. The knife drops quite effectively as Roat brings out his true nature again as he coldly dispatches his fellow criminals then proceeds to inquire about the doll to Susy. Arkin is quite chilling in this prolonged scene as he brings such a sadistic glee to Roat as he viciously toys with Susy and does not mind boasting about predicting the double cross against him. Arkin makes Roat manner most unnerving such as when he brushes off his claim that he wouldn't hurt Susy by non-nonchalantly stating that he had his fingers crossed. What makes Arkin's performance especially strong though are in the moments when Susy manages to get the upper hand for at least a moment. Arkin is terrific as he plays these moments especially realistically as just a guy frustrated or pained by what happened.

Arkin's is particularly good though in how he shows Roat trying to maintain his attitude as he usually reverts to his usual self once he gets the upper hand back. Well that is until Susy manages to do something that more permanently causes Roat to lose his usual cool. Arkin's is great in the scene as he forgets all about Roat's casual manner and instead is quite terrifying by just showing a man fighting against all sorts of anguish as his rage pulls him forward in a last ditch attempt to kill Susy. Alan Arkin altogether makes Roat one memorable villain for the film. His unusually style in his performance always works in still making him a figure to be feared while having a slight comic edge to the character that works rather nicely. Arkin's performance works as he makes Roat a believable a murderous thug who does not mind enjoying his ill deeds, but most importantly that he still suffers injuries like any real man would.


Michael McCarthy said...

Ahhhh shit I thought he was awesome....guess I'm rooting for Stamp now!

Louis Morgan said...

Did I say he wasn't awesome?

luke higham said...

Louis: I see that Hackman's down to a 4.5 for Bonnie & Clyde, can you explain why.

Louis Morgan said...

A re-watch of the film caused me to reexamine his performance ever so slightly. Although I do feel he's probably better than anyone could be in the part, the limitations of the role still keep his impact somewhat muted.

JackiBoyz said...

@RatedRStar: What are your thoughts on the recently announced Golden Horse award nominations?

JackiBoyz said...

Also RatedRStar, what was your thoughts on El Classico between Madrid and Barcelona?

luke higham said...

JackiBoyz: Madrid deserved it, Marcelo and Benzema, for me were the best players on the pitch, Ronaldo was solid, but not his best today, for Barca, Lionel Messi was below par and Suarez & Neymar were very good.

By the way I'm incredibly happy with West Ham's win over City, hopefully my team, the pensioners can squash Mank United tomorrow and leave us 8 points clear, at the top of the table and will be a small step towards an unbeaten season.

Michael McCarthy said...

Haha no you didn't Louis, I just meant I thought he was 5 worthy.

RatedRStar said...

@JackiBoyz and Luke higham: It was a good match but not one of the best El Classicos, I felt that Barcelona didnt seem to care about this match by the last 30 minutes not really going all out and bringing Sergi Roberto on was a mistake, Jeremy Mathieu is not a LB, Messi was no way to be seen, but Neymar and Suarez tryed hard, I agree with Luke that Marcelo and Benzema were great, one other name I would add to that is Dani Carvajal (usually an average player).

I look forward to Man Utd and Chelsea, I feel the Premier League race is already over, I think Chelsea will win, same as the Bundesliga is pretty much over with Bayern destroying Dortmund in points so far, I really hope Chelsea dont sit back in the game, I want to see plenty of goals against Utd (I still Love you Angel Di Maria =D)

The Golden Horse best actor race is quite interesting, in that they seemed to have nominated each actor from a different country or province,

Liao Fan (Southern China)
Lau Ching Wan (Hong Kong)
Chang Chen (Taiwan)
Masatoshi Nagase (Japan)
Chen Jian-Bin (Northern China)

As for best actress, nuff said, its great to see Lust Cautions Tang Wei and the great Gong Li continue to do good work,

Michael Patison said...

JackiBoyz: Real Madrid were 100% the better team on the pitch. Barcelona looked threatening every once in a while, most notably during the middle third of the first half, but they were never able to capitalize. On the other hand, Real looked threatening every second they were in the top half.

Marcelo was undoubtedly the best player on the pitch. I disagree with Luke on Benzema being the next best. Benzema was terrific, especially in the last third of the match, but I thought Isco was better and played lights-out. Carvajal was great and played the best match I've ever seen him play. Same for Pepe, who I can't stand. Sergio Ramos was also great; it seems like he needed an injury break to get back into his normal, top-class form. Luis Suarez was easily Barca's best player, especially in the first half. His chance creation was brilliant and matched only by Marcelo.

Daniel, I'd agree with you on the Bundesliga and on Chelsea's champions-elect status. I just hope my beloved Toffees can pick up the pieces and get into European competition again this season.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Brilliant performance. I do wish he'd go out of his comfort zone more often.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

thoughts and ratings on the rest of the cast, Louis?

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

And did you scream at all in the last 20 minutes or so of the film Louis, I was horrified!

RatedRStar said...

@GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar: I remember that famous jump scare, and when Hepburn finds out the wire is cut, they were tense lol =D if I didnt already know about those 2 scenes before (they were in a top 100 scary moments program I saw years ago) I would have screamed lol.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

@RatedRStar: Who would you cast in a HK version of this film lol, Cecilia Cheung and Gordon Lam?

RatedRStar said...

@GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar: Definately not imagine how dull it would be lol haha, actress wise, I think Zhang Ziyi would be my choice, since she is about as skinny and charming as Hepburn was, as for the actor to play the scary Arkins role, it would be Roy Cheung.

Matt Mustin said...

Louis, you may have said this already, but I don't remember. What's your rating and thoughts on Gary Oldman in Prisoner of Azkaban?

Louis Morgan said...


Crenna - 4(Crenna's good as the sympathetic one. He's go the right charm in the scenes where he is fooling Susy, but still suggesting a the growing unease as Mike begins to feel sorry for her. I particularly like his final scene as he builds a earlier than expected happy ending which gets so abruptly cut off by Arkin)

Weston - 3(He's also good as the middle guy who obviously also does not like Roat's ways but is a little more quiet about it. Weston is overshadowed by Arkin and Crenna, but he also does some fine work)

Zimbalist - 2.5(He has enough warmth in his scenes with Hepburn, but he is pretty forgettable)

I'm not a screamer but thankfully I did not have the final minutes spoiled for me before watching them the first time giving them the appropriate jolt to say the least.


Oldman - 3(I like everything he does as Sirius post his introduction as he rather suddenly makes Sirius a figure we care about. His introduction is a little too over the top though, although I have a feeling that was due to the direction.)

Anonymous said...

Is Hepburn still a 4 or did you bump her up to a 4.5 on a rewatch? I thought that she was great. I also really liked Arkin and Crenna, I'm not sure if Arkin is a 4 or a 4.5 for me though.

Anonymous said...

What are your thoughts and rating on Piper Laurie in The Hustler?

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

What films has everyone seen recently? And your ratings and thoughts, if you like, on them?

The Panic in Needle Park
Pacino: 5 (imo, his second best performance)
Winn: 5

Goodbye Mr Chips
Donat: 5
Garson: 4.5
Henried: 4

Bridge on the River Kwai
Guinness: 5
Holden: 5
Hakayawa: 4.5
Hawkins: 4.5

John Wick
Reeves: 4.5
Nqvist: 3
Allen: 3.5
Dafoe: 3
Palicaki or whatever: 3
McShane: 4

Angels with Dirty Faces
Cagney: 5 (my new favourite performance of all time)
O'Brien: 5
Sheridan: 4
Bogart: 4

So I guess you can say I've had a rather good time recently. :)

Kevin said...

Only seen John Wick and Locke recently

John Wick:

Reeves - 3.5
Dafoe - 3
Nyqvist - 3.5
Allen - 3.5
Reddick - 3
Palicki - 3
McShane - 4


Hardy - 5 (Favourite performance of the year thus far)
Scott, Wilson, Holland and the rest - 3.5 (I thought they created very compelling characters even though they only got to use their voices)

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I've only watched trainspotting:

McGregor - 4.5
Carlyle - 3.5
McKidd - 3.5
Bremmer - 2.5
Miller - 3.5
Macdonald - 3

RatedRStar said...

Gone Girl and Pride

Affleck (4)
Pike (4.5)
Harris (2)
Perry (3.5)
Coon (4)
Dickens (3.5)

Nighy (4)
Staunton (4.5)
West (3.5)
Scott (3.5)
MacKay (3)
Gilgun (3)
Schnetzer (4.5)
Considine (4)
Dolan (4)

Anonymous said...

I just noticed u changed Val Kilmer's performance in Tombstone from 4.5 to 5! So glad! Did you rewatch the movie recently?

Kevin said...


Any thoughts on the Chelsea Man Utd game? I have to say, I was pretty gutted by the late equaliser, but I am glad that Chelsea are still doing pretty well even without Costa

And Matic was tremendous, he is getting better and better.

Anonymous said...

@RatedRStar: What did you think of Gone Girl on a whole? What exactly you didn't like about Harris' performance? It's curious you, Louis and kook disliked his performance because just yesterday I was reading some reviews of the movie and Harris' work was well-received.

Anyway, movies I've seen recently:

Clara's Heart (1988)
Whoopi Goldberg - 4
Neil Patrick Harris - 4
Kathleen Quinlan - 2.5
A 2 or a 1.5 for the rest of the cast that was quite bad.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Josh Brolin - 3
Mickey Rourke - 3.5
Eva Green - 4
Joseph Gordon-Levitt - 4
Jessica Alba - 1.5

Mia Wasikowska - 3.5
Matthew Goode - 4
Nicole Kidman - 3

The Great Gatsby (1974)
Robert Redford - 2
Mia Farrow - 2.5
Bruce Dern - 2.5
Sam Waterson - 2
Lois Chiles - 2.5
Karen Black - 4

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous: You can read my explanation in my review of James Garner's performance.

RatedRStar said...

I mainly liked Gone Girl, I had a few problems with some scenes being just too silly or just too much of a coincidence, and my problem with Harris is that, I felt he was trying way too hard to come across as creepy early on and it doesnt help that he isnt scary or menacing in any way lol, plus he is miscast, and he really didnt make me care or feel anything for him, his death scene just made me go, meh whatever lol.