I Wake Up Screaming (1941)
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...
"Big Ed" Cornell, a police inspector/detective, with an unmatched record of convictions and a man who believes 'in justice', deliberately allows the murderer of Vicky Lynn, former-waitress turned aspiring-Hollywood-starlet, his freedom, while "Big Ed" leaves no stone unturned in trying to pin the killing on Frankie Christopher, a sports promoter who has more than one business going at all times, usually self-promotion. "Big Ed" stalks his victim like a bird-of-prey, and makes no secret that he will put Frankie on the 'hot spot,", the electric chair. (When this film was previewed at the Twentieth Century-Fox projection room in New York City, on October 18, 1941, for the industry trade-press, the title of the film was "Hot Spot." When it had its national first-release, on October 31, 1941, the title had been changed to the title of the novel it was based on.)
When the model Vicky Lynn is found murdered in her apartment in New York, the promoter of sports Frankie Christopher becomes the prime suspect of Inspector Ed Cornell and is brought to the precinct for interrogatory. Christopher discloses how he promoted the career of Vicky when she was a waitress after making a bet with his friends Robin Ray and Larry Evans. After reaching the stardom, Vicky tells Christopher that she would leave him to go to Hollywood and on the next day, she was killed. Ed Cornell insists that Christopher is the killer and frames him, and Christopher can only have the support of Vicky's sister, Jill Lynn, who has fallen in love with him. Who Killed Vicki?
When chanteuse Vicky Lynn is found murdered the police bring in promoter Frankie Christopher for questioning. Frankie had been organising Vicky's career until she suddenly took a Hollywood offer just before her death, and suspicion increasingly falls on him. Only Vicky's sister Jill seems to have evidence that could point elsewhere, while the detective in charge of the case, Ed Cornell, seems particularly keen on nailing him.
Why is Inspector Ed Cornell trying to railroad Frankie Christopher for the murder of model Vicky Lynn?
- Promoter Frankie Christopher (Victor Mature) is being grilled by police for the murder of Vicki Lynn (Carole Landis). Vicki was a waitress that he discovered and made a society star out of a bet he took with two associates, actor Robin Ray (Alan Mowbray) and gossip columnist (Allyn Joslyn). Christopher is not arrested because of lack of real evidence which Detective Ed Cornell (Laird Cregar) is obsessively pursuing and threatening Christopher with. Christopher manages to get away and goes into hiding with Vicky's sister, Jill Lynn (Betty Grable) a woman who at first meeting Christopher threw out clear barbs indicating her dislike of Christopher's involvement with her sister. Christopher has been confronted by Cornell with the detective admitting that he knows the promoter is innocent but it still won't prevent him from being convicted and executed for the crime. Christopher realizes that he must track down the real murderer on his own and Jill has agreed to help since they have fallen in love. Christopher turns to Harry Williams (Elisha Cook, Jr.) and he confesses that he was in contact with Vicky and ran to hide out but Detective Cornell told him to go back to work because he would not suffer for the crime. Christopher returns to Cornells apartment where he discovers a shrine to the dead Vicky and in a final eye-opening confrontation realizes the depth of Vickys allure.