Saturday, March 9, 2013

I Wake Up Screaming Landmark 1941 Film

Hyperbole? Perhaps but “I Wake Up Screaming” is an excellent early example of film noir. Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone from a novel by the same name writter by Steve Fisher this is a dark little film. One of the first to explore the dark side of those who enforce the law. Where everyone seems to have something to hide. A side to themselves that lies below the surface.

There are four main characters. Victor Mature plays pr guy Frankie Christopher who gets involved with two sisters Jill & Vickie Lynn player by Betty Grable and Carole Landis. Frankie is promoting Vickie to “be a star” while sister Jill think she should get a real job and work hard. Vicky gets killed the night before she is to leave for Hollywood after signing with another agent.

Naturally Frankie along with three other men become suspects and a team of detectives work to solve the case. The lead detective Ed Cornell is a large menacing man who is brilliantly played by Laird Cregar. Whose career was cut short in 1945 when he dies from the effects of losing over 100 pounds while on a crash diet which included prescribed amphetamines. Another great small role is played by the always solid Elisha Cook Jr. who plays a very creepy apartment doorman.

The film looks great and is set in New York with a lot of Gotham city flavor of the streets. In one scene Mature and Grable go for a swim in the middle of the night at an indoor pool called the Lido Plunge. Two musical themes that first made their appearances in earlier films are woven into the film. An adaptation of Alfred Newman's score from Street Scene is mixed together with Harold Arlen's “Over The rainbow” form the Wizard of Oz. Together they provide the backdrop as the mystery unfolds.

I won't spoil the ending by revealing who the true killer is because this is one you will want to see yourself.





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