Updated: Oct 9
Great idea; poor execution. What could go wrong with a film about teenagers making prank phone calls and accidentally telling an actual murderer, “I saw what you did, and I know who you are?” Unfortunately, in the screenplay for the movie, I Saw What You Did (1965), enough goes wrong that I didn’t really like the resulting product.
William Castle has made some great films. He’s also made some “kids-in-peril” films. This one, along with 13 Frightened Girls (1963) and Let’s Kill Uncle (1965) is no House on Haunted Hill (1959), The Tingler (1959), or 13 Ghosts (1960.) It’s not billed as a horror-comedy, which is good, because the laughs, of which there are plenty, are surely unintentional.
Featuring Joan Crawford, I Saw What You Did, is not even a Strait-Jacket (1964.) Both director and star take a step back with their second collaboration. Notice I didn’t say, “starring Joan Crawford.” She is not the star of the movie, and her character is a little too cartoonish for the “murderous consequences” its description promises.
She plays Amy Nelson, the neighbor of Steve Marak (John Ireland), who explodes in a murderous rage to kill his wife in the shower. It’s not so much an homage to Hitchcock as it is a variation on his infamous Psycho centerpiece. Amy doesn’t care what happened to Judith Marak (Joyce Meadows), because now she can have Steve all to herself.
The circumstances that would allow Steve to locate the girls making the phone calls is contrived at best and the primary reason for my displeasure with the story. I guess, though, in an age before cell phones and Caller ID, the girls would almost have to drive to his house to get a look at him so that he can grab their automobile registration card and later track them down.
Neither did the performances of the two girls work for me. This was the debut film for Kit Austin (Sara Lane) and Libby Mannering (Andi Garrett.) It doesn’t surprise me that after this they had only six and three other credits, respectively. They are simply annoying. Add Libby’s little sister, Tess (Sharyl Locke), and you want Steve to find and murder them.
Eventually, he does go to their house and the finale is much better than what precedes it. Peering in the window, when he sees Libby call the police, he crashes through it and a suspenseful pursuit begins, ending with a well-choreographed ending. There’s enough here for an excellent short film, but it’s padded with about an hour too much other “stuff.”
Written by William P. McGivern
From the novel Out of the Dark by Ursula Curtiss
Directed by William Castle
Starring Joan Crawford, John Ireland, Leif Erickson, Sara Lane, Andi Garett, Sharyl Locke, Patricia Breslin
RT 82 min.
Released May 15, 1965
Recorded on July 10, 2021 on Svengoolie
Rating 5 Psychos (out of 10)
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