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I Saw What You Did
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Universal. 82 minutes.
US theatrical release: 7/21/65.
VHS release: 8/24/99.
DVD release: 6/25/02.
Blu-ray release: 5/17/16.
Cast: Joan Crawford (as "Amy Nelson"), John Ireland, Leif Erickson, Sara Lane, Andi Garrett, Sharyl Locke, Patricia Breslin, John Archer, John Crawford, Joyce Meadows.
Credits: Based on the novel "Out of the Dark" by Ursula Curtiss. Screenplay: William McGivern. Producer/Director: William Castle. Camera: Joseph Biroc. Music: Van Alexander. Editor: Edwin H. Bryant.
Plot Summary: With true William Castle-style flamboyance the advertisements for I Saw What You Did intrigued non-etymologically inclined audiences by warning them that this suspenseful thriller was about uxoricide. He then had some of the theaters where the film was shown equipped with seat belts so frightened audience members wouldn't flee the theater in a panic. It was a spooky film, but wasn't all that scary. The tale begins upon a dark and foggy night as two teenage girls, bored with their baby-sitting job, decide to have a little fun and make some prank phonecalls. Every time some hapless person answers, they whisper conspiritorally "I saw what you did. I know who you are." Unfortunately, they happen to call a man who has just murdered his wife --- in the shower no less! He takes the call seriously and so sets off into the night to find the girls and silence them forever. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide
Thanks to Jon M. for contributing these.
Much ado was made in print late 1964 and early '65 of Joan Crawford being signed by William Castle to do this film. Joan had just recovered from a long illness that resulted in her losing her role in Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte in 1964, thus her new assignment for Castle deemed her insurable and fit to work again.
In publicity interviews for I Saw What You Did, Joan said the film had a valuable message for children and parents alike, something they could both identify with -- not to play with the telephone.
John Ireland was one of Joan's love interests in 1955s Queen Bee; the two had an affair during the filming.
Director William Castle's career peaked a few years later as the producer of Rosemary's Baby.
I Saw What You Did was remade as a TV movie in 1988.
Howard Thompson in the New York Times
July 22, 1965
The Universal thrillers that opened yesterday in neighborhood theaters have one thing and one thing only in common—excellent plots. Arriving in a splash of fanfare, with a cast headed by Joan Crawford, "I Saw What You Did" is a generally broad and belabored expansion of a nifty idea: What happens after two telephone pranksters, a pair of giggling teenagers, accidentally coo the film's title to a murderous psychopath? At the bottom of the bill, barely publicized at all, lies "Dark Intruder," the good one.
Tightened, minus about half an hour and with the entire story held to the impressionable viewpoint of the youngsters, the first picture would have brightened and chilled considerably more. Unfortunately, William Castle, the director-producer, dawdles the tempo. And there is a redundant middle chapter involving the aroused, snarling killer, played by John Ireland, and his predatory, love-hungry neighbor, Miss Crawford.
The youngsters, Andi Garrett, Sarah Lane and a perky little toddler named Sharyl Locke, are altogether delightful. Mr. Castle has staged a fine, freezing showdown with Miss Garrett, little Sharyl and the stalking Mr. Ireland. As for why the children's parents, nicely played by Leif Erickson and Pat Breslin, would leave them alone in a wide-open house miles out in the country, we'll never know....
...a well-produced, well-acted entry in the suspense-terror field....Top billing for Miss Crawford is justified only by making allowances for drawing power of her name. But her role as Ireland's shrewish, predatory lover is well handled and vital to the story. Slightest gesture or expression of this veteran thesp conveys vivid emotion.
Phil Chandler on dvdcult.com:
...I Saw What You Did is loaded with the same cheesy thrills and sense of fun that William Castle is famous for....The narrative is too gimmicky and clumsy at times--only William Castle would use peanut butter and jelly stains as a plot device. Joan Crawford delivers another interesting over the top performance, yet nowhere as off kilter as in Strait Jacket. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t do a whole lot with her character, except for a highly notable death sequence....
An early example of the teen horror novel into film trend most recently personified by I Know What You Did Last Summer, this film has gained an almost legendary status as one of gimmicky director William Castle's finest achievements among horror buffs....Top-billed Joan Crawford, looking befuddled after her earlier axe-wielding turn in Castle's Strait Jacket, has little to do as Amy, a neighbor with a hopeless crush on the murderous Steve.
If you've seen I Saw What You Did and would like to share your review here, please e-mail me. Feel free to include a photo of yourself to accompany your review, a star-rating (with 5 stars the best), as well as any of your favorite lines from the film.
Shane Estes (August 2010)
Rating: of 5
I don’t know where to start with this one. As is the case with so many other Crawford films, it took me a million years to hunt this one down. For the longest time I could only find an out-of-print DVD on Amazon for around $100, but then I ran across a very nice online seller who happened to have a copy of it. If you’re a Crawford fan, this is definitely another one of those fun rare films worth hunting down. Just don’t have any expectations of high culture here! This is a low budget gimmicky B-film every step of the way, ultra-campy and over-the-top, and that is exactly what makes this film so great.
Crawford follows up her performance in ’s (1964) with this film, working again with the horror film director and acting alongside John Ireland again for the first time since Queen Bee (1955). This film continues Crawford’s 1960’s image of the “scream queen,” which began with What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962). It’s interesting to note all of the great actresses of Old Hollywood that did horror films in the 1960s: in William Castle’s Nightwalker (1964) with Robert Taylor; of course Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland in the would-be Joan film Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964) among others; in Die! Die! My Darling! (1965); and the list goes on, forming the strange sub-genre they call "Grande Dame Guignol," which all began with Baby Jane!
In SJ, Joan plays Ireland’s obsessive and over-protective neighbor/love interest and is only a part of about half of this film before she is ultimately murdered off in a fabulously campy and dramatic stabbing scene. Even though she receives top billing, John Ireland kind of steals the film here. He is fantastic as the creepy murderer guy! Following in the Psycho tradition, there is a lovely shower murder scene with lots of blood and screaming, and then we see our Joan make her entrance, probably more than a little bit tipsy, dressed to the nines in full 60s high-do hair and wearing a necklace that has to be seen to be believed. The film follows a simple Castle gimmick, in this case where a couple of teenage girls prank call a bunch of random people while saying the line “I saw what you did, and I know who you are,” eventually stumbling upon the murderer John Ireland just after he commits the first murder.
This is actually a highly entertaining, albeit a cheese-ball film. If you’re into cheesy horror films, this one is definitely for you. One amusing scene features a furious Joan chasing after a frightened teenage girl screaming “Get outta here ya little tramp!” several times before the girl drives off. Another hysterical scene shows a pretty buzzed Joan persuading Ireland that his former lover was no good, “You know Judith was wrong for you. She was too young; too young to be a wife, a companion, or… (struggles to stand up) er, ugh… anything.”
Ah, Joan, we still love ya, even in this dreck.
SAJiggyfly (December 2008)
In "I saw what you did..." Joan Crawford's appearance here was a bit more than a cameo, but she managed to get 13 minutes' time in. She was not in high demand at this period (1964); however, her appearance could lift a C movie to possibly a B with her name value alone, and it did. Here's my synopsis on her role:
1. Her name alone was a bit juvenile in this movie, which was "Amy." She was about 59 in this movie and was trying a role for a late-30s divorcee; huge failure here.
2. After she pours Steve a drink and sits down, she attempts to get up and nearly falls out of the sofa, all the while getting a groan in there (uugghhh!!!) and they kept the cameras going. (She was thought to be drinking heavily on the set and that was probably the best take they could get out of her so they left it in.)
3. When she catches Libby looking in Steve's window, her vile, drunken-sailor vocabulary reaches a new zenith that fans have never heard the likes of before and even left some of them shocked.
4. She tears off the registration card from the steering column of Libby's mother's car to have a cushion for future terrorist acts at her whim.
5. She meets her demise the way Steve's wife did only about six hours later.
6. Fans want to know who the true star of this movie was. No, it wasn't , it wasn't Libby or her friend, or her mother, her little sister, nor the little dog and it definitely was not Joan. Who then you ask was the real star of this movie? Well, it wasn't a "who" it was a "what" in that the true star of this movie was the necklace wore, only rivaled by that of the Empress Carlotta! Lord today!!!!!
Stephanie Jones (January 2006)
Rating: -1/2 of 5
ISWYD is Joan's second and final collaboration with schlockmeister William Castle, who also produced and directed the previous year's Strait-Jacket. Castle was known for his promotional gimmicks, which in this case included providing theater seats with safety-belts "so you won't be shocked out of your seat" and a prominent notice on the posters advertising the film: "William Castle warns you: This is a motion picture about UXORICIDE!" (I guess "A motion picture about a guy who kills his wife" doesn't sound quite so exotic!) But Castle's most successful gimmick of all has to be Joan, who headlines here despite only appearing in the middle half-hour or so of the @ 90-minute film.
Joan plays "Amy," the clingy neighbor and lover of "Steve" (John Ireland), who has just murdere...oops---who has just committed UXORICIDE! Hard-edged, love-starved, and, as Jon M. mentioned below, wearing a mighty chandelier of a necklace, Amy immediately expresses heart-felt sympathy when Steve tells her his wife has run off: "I'm here, Steve. Don't let this hurt you. She's not worth it. You married a [as she's vehemently tossing said wife's scattered things into an open suitcase] childish [fling] empty-headed [fling] little [fling] tramp." That line-reading is enjoyably pure latter-day Joan, as is the later "You know, Judith was wrong for you. She was too young. Too young to be a wife, a companion, or [ugggh] anything"---It's the slipped in "ugggh" of disgust that really makes the line and makes Joan (as usual) so entertaining to watch. (Similarly creative and cute is a wordless shot of Amy pouring a drink for herself and Steve---after initially pouring the two drinks, she looks at them, then, with a shrug and what-the-hell smile, just goes ahead and grabs the whole damn bottle!) Even Amy's decidedly over-the-top pummeling of and yelling at the unfortunate teenager Libby is briefly tempered by an interesting momentary softening of expression and voice---"Look honey, you're too young"---before the shrieking resumes. Joan skillfully and charismatically manages to add quite a bit of pizzazz to what would otherwise have been a pretty harshly one-note character.
Even aside from Joan, though, the film's not bad. One of the first, if not the first, in the now common "teens-home-alone-menaced-by-maniac" genre, ISWYD may not be extremely scary, but it is slightly menacing thanks to Ireland's permanently grim countenance and a plot that progresses smoothly and naturally from mere childish phone pranks to their more serious consequences. The acting of the teenagers and the kid sister is natural, as well---it's easy both to laugh with them when they're goofily "tormenting" poor "Donald I. Leak" and "John Hamburger" from the phonebook, as well as to feel a bit nervous for them as things start to spiral out of control. ISWYD is low-budget and a bit schlocky, sure, but it's also a tight, competent, very watchable little film.
Jonathan from RI (July 2005)
Rating: of 5
I Saw What You Did is a cute little horror film. It's not really scary, it's funny. A little slow at times but it has a little campiness to it. John Ireland is the villain; some little girls call him up right as he's doing a crime and say "I Saw What You Did and I know who you are." LOL. I don't want to spoil it, but he finds out who they are and goes after them. Joan plays the killer neighbor. She plays a stupid desperate bitch in this but it's very funny. She has the most ridiculous oversized necklace on--it's great! This movie is fun; not sure if you'd like to buy it though, but well worth renting on Netflix. Check it out for a few laughs and some fun.
Jon M. (June 2005)
Rating: -1/2 of 5
I saw what you did and I know who you are.... Those are the words repeated over and over again throughout this little thriller. Although the film now seems kitschy, it no doubt found its audience, which I would assume were teens and preteens, back in 1965.
The movie opens with the usual ingredients of an old horror film: strange noises, slamming doors, and lots of fog etc. Two teenage girls, Libby and Kit, are spending a Saturday night at home with Libby's little sister Tess--of course the parents are out of town for the weekend -- and the girls amuse themselves by crank-calling various people out of the phone book. Most of the people picking up the calls are amused, until Libby stumbles upon Steve Marak, whose voice she finds sexy. You the viewer see that Steve has indeed just done a very bad thing so when Libby drops the "I saw what you did" line on him it takes on a special meaning.
Leading lady Crawford's role is of the next-door neighbor of Steve. It seems that Steve and Amy (Crawford) are carrying on an affair despite the fact that he is married. Amy wants to build a future with the menacing Steve and will stop at nothing to get at him. Meanwhile Libby and Kit are not satisfied with only hearing Steve's voice; they must see him too, so they decide to drop by his home to take a look. Needless to say, Libby gets caught peeping in Steve's window (just in time too) by jealous Amy -- who turns violent herself, stops short of beating the girl and sends her home, but not before stealing her vehicle registration card that has the girl's address. Naturally Mr. Steve decides to pay a return visit to the girls home, unannounced of course....
This film was one of the last in a long line of William Castle horrors. Castle was kind of a poor man's Alfred Hitchcock since most of his pictures were little more than "B" movies -- some of which, like Macabre, House on Haunted Hill and Homicidal are regarded as cult classics. Castle, like other low-end producers, was in the habit of using stars of yesteryear to attract an audience to his movies -- a formula that usually worked at the box office. For this film Joan Crawford was the draw even though she appears in only a few scenes. The film was shot in black and white (I can't see it going over well in color anyway). With only the mildest of production values and an annoying swinging 1960s soundtrack, the actors didn't have much to work with.
Our star Joan Crawford certainly makes a memorable appearance; she wears a necklace so heavy that it appears to have been once part of a crystal chandelier. It also seems that Joan found a use for all of her extra hairpieces in this one hairstyle worn for this film alone. Her presence is undeniable though: she gives her small part way more than it deserved. John Ireland is menacing enough, even though we don't exactly know why. The three girls are really non-actors, but are believable because they are just being young girls, which is no real stretch here. All in all, it's a fun little film, not to be taken seriously.
"I'm giving the orders now..." Joan's Amy to Steve
"You little tramp -- throwing yourself at him, chasing him!" Amy to Libby
"Now get outta here!" (repeated many, many times) Amy to Libby
"I know what kind of a game... with a man over twice your age!" Amy to Libby
"You want to crack a whip? Get yourself a dog." Steve to Amy
"It's a simple choice, Steve... Life with me or no life at all." Amy to Steve
Above: Italian lobby cards. Below: Mexican lobby cards.
Above right: US pressbook. Click on image to see all 12 pages.
Above: A UK campaign book.
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