I SAW WHAT YOU DID. (1965) BASED ON A NOVEL BY URSULA CURTISS CALLED ‘OUT OF THE DARK.’ SCREENPLAY BY WILLIAM MCGIVERN. PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY WILLIAM CASTLE. STARRING JOAN CRAWFORD, JOHN IRELAND, LEIF ERICKSON, SHARYL LOCKE, ANDI GARRETT AND SARAH LANE.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
‘Fate dials the number… Terror answers the phone…!’
‘I saw what you did and I know who you are…’
Hmmm. I loved the concept of this old black-and-white hag horror-slash-thriller, and I loved that Joan Crawford was the star name in it, but the kids who are the main protagonists were just so awfully annoying and grating that it put me off the film a good bit.
The worst and most irresponsible big sister-babysitter in the history of cinema, Libby Mannering, is put in charge of minding her precocious little sister Tess for the night while her parents attend a part-business, part-pleasure get-together with friends some ninety miles away.
Libby’s best friend Kit, only slightly less irresponsible than Libby herself, comes over to join them. Do they do what babysitters normally do and order a pizza and watch movies together while giggling non-stop about boys they fancy? Do they heck as like, as they say on Coronation Street.
No, these two teenaged brats and their little charge take out the phone book, select numbers at random and phone them up, then, when someone answers, Libby puts on a sexy, sultry grown-up accent and says: ‘I saw what you did and I know who you are…’
Now, at some point, human nature being what it is, what Libby says during her prank phone calls is bound to resonate with someone. Moe the Bartender from The Simpsons is doing something very similar when he wanders around telling random people that their secret’s safe with him if they just cut him in for half a million. Why are you saying that, his friend Homer asks him, to which Moe replies that he goes round saying it to folks in the hopes that, one day, it’ll be applicable, lol.
This exact thing happens when silly little Libby Mannering phones up a guy called Steve Merak. He, as it turns out, has just done something which he most certainly wouldn’t want anyone knowing about. When he gets this call out of the blue, he’s dumbstruck with horror.
He’s desperate to get his hands on this sultry-voiced woman on the other end of the phone calling herself Suzette (like the crepes!) who says she saw what he did, and get it out of her just exactly what she knows about his crime. And, trust me, when a man drives to the forest in the middle of the night to bury the contents of a big trunk in a shallow grave, you can be sure he’s committed a crime of some sort…
Joan Crawford is magnificent as Steve’s nosy busybody-ing neighbour Amy. Amy has already worked out what Steve has done, through the power of spying, lol, and she’s determined to make it work to her advantage. She seriously ‘digs’ Steve, as you might say, and wants a romantic relationship with him, whether good old Steve wants it or not. This kind of one-sided enthusiasm certainly bodes well for their future romantic life…
Clad in a sophisticated black dinner dress and the most magnificent beaded necklace, with her blonde hair piled up and fixed elaborately on top of her head, she tells Steve that she’s ‘giving the orders now,’ a prospect that doesn’t exactly fill Steve with joy. Amy shouldn’t push her luck. What Steve did once, he can surely do again…
The fog that wreaths the babysitter’s house makes the setting very atmospheric, and Libby, aka Suzette, aka the big sister-babysitter, is so irresponsible that she constantly exposes herself and her little sister to terrible danger.
Imagine sending a six-year-old girl downstairs in the middle of the night to open the front door to let the dog in while you snooze comfortably in your bed…! And on a night when murder has been committed not a million miles away, as well.
Their parents seem to be taking things terribly lightly from ninety miles away, but when they eventually return to their homestead, they need to ground that Libby kid back to the Stone Age and ban her from ever using the telephone again. I saw what you did, indeed.
Little punk-ass kids. If that’s what they were getting up to in the ‘Sixties on the family landline, then God alone knows what trouble they’re getting into nowadays with their Smart phones and their unlimited access to the Internet. It hardly bears thinking about, does it?
Anyway, favourite scene? Apart from the shower-scene tribute to Psycho, it would have to be a gloriously angry and jealous Joan Crawford as Amy giving the spoiled, silly ‘Suzette’ the elbow, loudly and unequivocally, right there in the middle of the street outside Steve’s house. ‘You’re just too young, honey.’ Ain’t it the truth, Joanie dear? Ain’t it the truth…?
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
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