Teenagers Libby and Kit have found a new way to entertain themselves: by calling up random strangers and tormenting them with a warning: “I saw what you did, and I know who you are.” But when a man who has recently murdered his wife becomes their latest victim, the tables are quickly turned… and this wrong number may mean that their number is up!
In this 1965 thriller from William Castle, teenage Libby Mannering's parents are leaving, and they'll be gone overnight. When the babysitter is forced to cancel, Libby is left home alone to look after her little sister Tess. As she is alone, Libby invites a friend, Kit Austin over for dinner. When Kit arrives, the girls have little to do, other than chase after Tess when she runs off to play. Some time later, Libby proposes that they make things more interesting, by playing a game that she and her sister has played many times before. It's a game, where they scan the phone book to select a completely random number, which they would then, prank call. It's a game that has proven to be fun for them. And so they proceed to prank numbers, coming up with various scenarios, for whomever would answer. The scenarios, seemingly innocent, from pretending to be a mistress of a woman who answer's husband, or pretending to be a lost child. Although annoyingly obnoxious, the calls are all in good fun. All of the calls are answered, except for one particular call, in which a man's(whose name was listed) wife answers. The woman, who is the wife of Steve Marak, tells the girls that Steve is in the bath. Eventually they hang up, and proceeds to continue on with their game. However in the meantime, things turn deadly for Marak and his wife. As it turns out, she's leaving him, because he has a mistress in a woman named Amy Nelson, his neighbor. Conversation becomes violent for the couple, which results in Steve, losing his temper, and stabbing his wife to death. After the act, Steve scrambles to cover up his crime, it's a scene that Amy, the neighbor soon enters. Marak eventually buries his dead wife, and hopes to lay low. However later in the night, Libby insists that they call Steve back, since he was unavailable the first time around. This time, Marak answers, so Libby decides to use the phrase which they had used on a few of their other calls. The "I Saw What You Did, I Know Who You Are!" routine. When Marak hears this on the other end of the telephone, he's startled. He believes that he's been found out. With the man confused, the call soon ends. But that doesn't keep a curious Libby from being further fascinated by the man. That's when Libby convinces Kit, for she and Tess to accompany her to Marak's house. So they load up in her parents' car and head over. Unfortunately, things don't end happily. The murderous Marak looks to take out the girls, so they flee in a hurry, but not before Amy is able to snatch Libby's mother's registration card from the car. Following, some time later, Marak also kills Amy, and with the registration card in hard, goes on the hunt for the girls. He eventually arrives, and pretends to just be merely returning the registration card. By that time, Kit has been brought back home by her father. However, it was during the trip back that Kit hears of Steve Marak's murderous rampage on the radio. She is quick to call up Libby to let her know, not knowing that Marak had just been there. Unfortunately, Marak overhears the phone conversation, and goes into action as he pursues. The chase is terrifying for Libby and Tess, as she panics to start the car. It is during this time that Marak emerges from the back seat of the car, as he attempts to strangle her. Luckily for them, a Police Officer, who had been called to the scene, eventually guns him down. It was initially an innocent mischievous game to them, but it is a game that nearly cost them their lives.
William Castle, the Director notoriously known for the gimmicks associated with his films, publicized I SAW WHAT YOU DID, with a gimmick, which saw a section of a theater's chairs equipped with seat belts which prevented frightened patrons from leaving the theater in a panic. He also splashed the word "Uxoricide"(The murder of a wife or lover - in this case, it's both) on the posters, which boldly displayed it. It was marketing, that was no different than what Castle had done previously. It was grand marketing. However, underneath it all, I SAW WHAT YOU DID is just a simple film. Simple, but effective. In the film, 3 girls; 2 teenage, and one younger, play an innocent game of prank calling, only to find themselves entangled in a murderer's dangerous web. I SAW WHAT YOU DID's storytelling is progressive, as it has a beginning, middle and end, yet it is a film that is conveniently scripted. Meaning, that it isn't all that unpredictable. It's developments make sense, as it would seem that the way that things happen in the film, were written with fluidity in mind. The film flows quite well, making a film that is both easy and fun to watch. Like the story itself, the whole structure is simple. The prank calling by the girls is the beginning, while Steve Marak murdering his wife, is the middle. And then the last half would be the killing of the neighbor Amy, and then of course, Marak's pursuit of the girls. Throughout, the script is able to keep things interesting, as it never stalls when going from one point to the next. For me, it was my first time seeing it, but I really enjoyed I SAW WHAT YOU DID for what it is. It has a curious beginning that leads to some drastic consequences, which all brings things to an exciting close in the end.
I really like when I watch a classic film such as this one. and i'm able to see how it might have influenced present day films. With this one, the influence is apparent. From the victims, who unknowingly head right into trouble, on account of a innocent/stupid mistake, from the killer's cover up, to his later determined pursuit of the girls, the style used here, is something we still see in today's film. In fact, Castle himself here, seems to once again, be heavily inspired by Alfred Hitchcock. I really liked the film's last act, which includes an awesome reveal of Marak hiding in the backseat of the car(something, again, we see all the time now. But in 1965, that was edgy).
As for the acting, overall, I felt that all of the parts were well played. Andi Garrett, Sara Lane and Sharyl Locke, portray, "Libby Mannering", "Kit Austin" and "Tess Mannering", respectively. Although all three barely had any acting experience at the time, they present here, three characters whom are likable, and like the film, are easy to watch. The true acting power, I guess you could say, comes by way of the film's older cast members. A cast that includes Joan Crawford as "Amy Nelson" and John Ireland as the murderous and mysterious, "Steve Marek", along with John Archer, as Kit's father, "John Austin", and Leif Erickson, and Patricia Breslin as Libby and Tess' parents, "Dave" and "Ellie" Mannering.
So to close, I'll again say that I enjoyed this one. Yes, compared to today's films, its approach may feel a little dated, but for a film that is nearly 50 years old, surprisingly, its suspense holds up well.
Here SHOUT! FACTORY/SCREAM FACTORY, releases I SAW WHAT YOU DID via a brand new 2016 HD transfer. Despite a few scratches and marks, here and there(most coming at the beginning of the film), the transfer is very crisp, with its black and white palate nicely saturated. The transfer and sound are both great. For anyone who has the 1999 ANCHOR BAY DVD, you might take note that in terms of special features, this disc only features the film's 2 theatrical trailers.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
I SAW WHAT YOU DID, is a nice little tale of innocent pranks and murder, in true William Castle fashion. Beyond his crazy gimmicks, Castle is almost, in a way, akin to an "American Hitchcock", and this film is a good example, as to why. I have not seen all of the William Castle films, but i've seen a nice chunk of them. This being one of his Universal films, it was a film that I had yet seen prior to this, but I would say that it is a film that is one of his most entertaining.
Special Features include
- NEW 2016 High-Definition Transfer
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- "Special World Premiere Announcement" Trailer Featuring William Castle
- Photo Gallery
This film will be released on Blu-Ray on May 17, 2016