Friday, September 12, 2008


I was flipping through the channels yesterday and saw an ad for the upcoming release Blindness. The ad made it sound as though the mass blindness that's the key plot point of the movie was caused by a military conspiracy, so that immediately turned me off to the movie. Actually, the ad made it look as though it combined that with plot elements of Kevin Costner's The Postman, which makes it sound even worse.

However, there are some wonderful blind characters in the movies. I've already recommended A Patch of Blue, in which Elizabeth Hartmann plays a blind girl who falls in love with Sidney Poitier.

There's also The Miracle Worker, telling the story of Anne Macy Sullivan (played here by Anne Bancroft), the teacher of Helen Keller (Patty Duke), the young southern girl who went both blind and deaf as a result of scarlet fever, but through Sullivan's teaching learned how to talk and became a famous lecturer. Both Bancroft and Duke won Oscars for their portrayals.

One of the clichés is of the blind person who can "see" more than the sighted folks around him. Such a blind man appears in Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur. When our hero (played by Bob Cummings), comes to a house in the woods looking to get out of a rainstorm, he tries to conceal his handcuffs from his host, only to discover that his host (Vaughan Glaser) is blind. However, when the host's niece, and eventual love interest for Cummings (played by Priscilla Lane) shows up, we find out that the blind man knew Cummings was wearing handcuffs long before Lane did. Also, he knows Cummings is innocent where Lane takes a very long time before believing in Cummings.

One of the best blind characters is the one played by Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark. Her husband has brought home a doll that he's supposed to deliver to a girl in a local hospital as a favor for somebody. What neither of them know is that the doll is actually filled with heroin, and that the drug dealers are looking for it. Hepburn is alone in the apartment with the doll, when the dealers show up to try to get it.... It's one of the great suspense movies ever made, right up there with the movies of Alfred Hitchcock.

I am pleased to report that each of the movies recommended today (well, maybe not Blindness, but I'm not actually recommending that one) is available on DVD.

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