7.3/10
2,921
77 user 33 critic

I Wake Up Screaming (1941)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 31 October 1941 (USA)
Why is Inspector Ed Cornell trying to railroad Frankie Christopher for the murder of model Vicky Lynn?

Director:

(as Bruce Humberstone)

Writers:

(screen play), (novel)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Reporter
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Reporter
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Assistant District Attorney
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Keating--Florist
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Cemetery Caretaker
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Headwaiter
May Beatty ...
Lady Handel (as Mae Beatty)
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Storyline

Promoter Frankie Christopher, being grilled by police in the murder of model Vicky Lynn, recalls in flashback: First meeting her as a waitress, Frankie decides to parlay her beauty into social acceptance and a lucrative career. He succeeds only too well: she's on the eve of deserting him for Hollywood...when someone kills her. Now Frankie gets the feeling that Inspector Ed Cornell is determined to pin the killing on him and only him. He's right. And the only one he can turn to for help is Jill, the victim's sister, who's been cool toward him... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

31 October 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hot Spot  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The writers used the name "Cornell" for the obsessive cop played by Laird Cregar, a tribute to Moir writer Cornell Woolrich. See more »

Goofs

in the Lido Plunge swimming pool scene Mature is holding cigarette in right hand. Cut to close up, and it's now in his left hand. (He then flicks it away onto the pool deck without hesitation, despite everybody being barefooted.) See more »

Quotes

Ed Cornell: I'll follow you into your grave. I'll write my name on your tombstone.
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Connections

Referenced in Good Dick (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

The Things I Love
(uncredited)
Music and lyrics by Harold Barlow and Lewis Harris
Based on "Melody," Op. 42, No.3
Written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Sung by Carole Landis
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User Reviews

 
Story of obsession, murder key movie in developing noir cycle
31 March 2002 | by (Western New York) – See all my reviews

WWII pin-up gal Betty Grable took her first dramatic part as the sister of a murdered model in Bruce Humberstone's I Wake Up Screaming, based on a serialized novel by Steve Fisher. It sounds like second billing, but the victim's role – as coffee-shop hostess turned toast of Manhattan Vicky Lynn – remains curiously understated (and played by Carole Landis).

Landis is discovered by publicist Victor Mature and falls under his benevolent spell, which launches her onto magazine covers and ultimately to a Hollywood contract. She proves ungrateful and winds up strangled. Mature, among other suspects, comes under the scrutiny of the police, particularly of a dogged detective whose interest in the case borders on the obsessive. Portrayed by the immense but oddly vulnerable Laird Cregar, the detective becomes Mature's nemesis (in one scene, Mature wakes up to find Cregar watching him, hoping he'll incriminate himself by talking in his sleep). Cregar's ominous bulk makes for a number of looming shadows skulking through nighttime New York.

I Wake Up Screaming, which appeared very early in the noir cycle, certainly displays the dark look and fragmented structure of its successors, but its tone remains ambiguous. Basically, it's a high-style, `sophisticated' murder mystery, a precursor to the more famous and accomplished Laura. But, unlike Laura, it found many of the implications of the story perhaps too grim for wartime audiences – the theme of obsession gets played down, for instance. But it's a key work in the developing noir cycle, released the same year as Johnny Eager, The Glass Key and This Gun For Hire.

Eleven years later, the releasing studio, 20th Century Fox, remade the film as Vicki. Though changes for the most part were minimal, the title role was enlarged (and taken by Jean Peters) while Mature's part was weakened by routine casting. The most interesting change was engaging the young Richard Boone for the Cregar part, who delivers a more brutal portrayal and thus underscores the theme of sexual obsession. It could be argued that the remake, despite lapses in casting and direction, remains the more intriguing version.


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