7.2/10
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79 user 37 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:

H. Bruce Humberstone (as Bruce Humberstone)

Writers:

Dwight Taylor (screen play by), Steve Fisher (from the novel "I Wake Up Screaming" by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Betty Grable ... Jill Lynn
Victor Mature ... Frankie Christopher
Carole Landis ... Vicky Lynn
Laird Cregar ... Ed Cornell
William Gargan ... Jerry MacDonald
Alan Mowbray ... Robin Ray
Allyn Joslyn ... Larry Evans
Elisha Cook Jr. ... Harry Williams
Chick Chandler ... Reporter
Cyril Ring ... Reporter
Morris Ankrum ... Asst. District Attorney
Charles Lane ... Keating--Florist
Frank Orth ... Cemetery Caretaker
Gregory Gaye ... 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

Taglines:

Three of the most exciting people you ever had in a picture!


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 October 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hot Spot See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono | Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In Darryl F. Zanuck's original concept of the film, it was to end with a Grable song, but that idea eventually was discarded. "Daddy" (music and lyrics by Bobby Troup), plugged by Betty Grable in a store's music department, was cut from the film so that Twentieth Century-Fox could showcase Miss Grable in a fully dramatic role. The shooting script had Betty working as a stenographer instead of plugging songs. As her sole musical moment, Miss Grable hummed a bit of the Tchaikovsky-based ballad, "The Things I Love" (music and lyrics by Harold Barlow and Lewis Harris), during a car ride with Victor Mature and Carole Landis. Most of the ditty would be sung by Miss Landis later in the movie. Footage of Miss Grable performing "Daddy" still exists. See more »

Goofs

During the nightclub scene, Frankie removes a price tag from Vicky's glove that wasn't in previous shots. See more »

Quotes

Jill Lynn: What's the good of living without hope?
Ed Cornell: It can be done.
See more »

Connections

References Dracula (1931) See more »

Soundtracks

Street Scene
(uncredited)
Music by Alfred Newman
Played over main titles, then heard as background music throughout the movie
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Story of obsession, murder key movie in developing noir cycle
31 March 2002 | by bmacvSee 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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