A very old woman lives alone in a condemned building in a run-down area of a city. And she is afraid of every one she meets so she won’t open her door to anyone.
Outside her apartment she sees a policeman in the alley so she hides in her room. Shots are fired and a car speeds away. She hears the voice of a man crying for help. She tells him to go away and leave her alone. He tells her that he’s been shot and his name is Officer Harold Beldon and he needs a doctor right away.
The old woman is in a panic. She is frightened to death of the man but she is moved to help an injured person. She overcomes her fear and goes to him. When she touches his shoulder, she is amazed. She says aloud, “how am I still alive?” The old lady helps the Officer into her apartment and tries to make him comfortable on the bed and makes him some tea. Now that she is safe back in her room, she tells the Officer about herself. She says that one time on a bus she saw a man come up to a very old woman and in the course of picking up something she dropped, he touched her hand and a little while later she died. At that point she concluded that the man was actually Death there to take the old woman away. The old woman tells the Officer that a few more time she saw Death take away old people. Now she avoids everyone because Death can take any form. But she is miserable. She loves the sunlight but now lives always in darkness.
Later on, a knock comes at the door and she refuses to open it. The man at the door says he is a contractor responsible for demolishing the condemned buildings that include the one the old lady lived in. When she refused to open the door, he brakes it down. When he enters the room the old lady collapses to the floor. When she comes to, she is once again amazed that Death has not gotten her. The contractor tries to comfort her and explains that his job is not evil. He’s clearing the ground so new homes can be built to replace the worn-out buildings. The old lady asks Officer Beldon to help her explain to the contractor that she needs to stay inside but the contractor is confused by her words and leaves warning her she must go.
When she thinks about what happened she realizes that the contractor couldn’t see the Officer. Beldon tells her to look in the mirror and when she does, she can’t see him in the mirror. Now she knows that he is indeed Death. In confusion she asks him why he did not kill her when she let him in. He explains to her that he is not there to hurt or frighten her. He is only there to guide her to the next phase of her existence. He implores her lovingly to take his hand and after initial fear she does. When nothing seems to happen, she is relieved and she asks him when she will die and he asks her to look at the bed. There she sees her own body in repose. And now Death says to her, “What you feared would come like an explosion is like a whisper. What you thought was the end is the beginning.” Death leads the old lady out of the darkness into the sunlight.
Gladys Cooper as the old lady and Robert Redford as Death are very good. The drama is sentimental and emotionally charged but effective. I enjoyed it. B+