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I Wake Up Screaming(1941)


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Frankie Christopher(Victor Mature)a promoter claims he can make a star out of anybody.In a restraint he meets Vicky Lynn(Carole Landis)a waitress and tells her he can make her a star.

Soon Vicki hits the big time.Vickis sister Jill(Betty Grable)is falling for Frankie,but she thinks hes in love with Vicki.

Vicki is murdered and the police suspect Frankie.

There are several other suspects,Jill,Ed Cornell(Laird Cregar)a shifty,cocky,police detective,Harry Williams(Elisha Cook JR)the switchboard operator at Vickis apartment,and Larry Evans(Allyn Joslyn)a down and out actor.

Good Who Done It.

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The storyline is quite good. The 1941 film is very much a noir type of film, for those who say that 1944's *Double Indemnity* is the "first" noir. Cregar is very effective as the shady cop, who seems to have more on his mind then just doing his job as the investigating detective. The *Vicki* remake follows the first film very closely, most people prefer the earlier film, but I really like looking at Jean Peters and Jeanne Crain :) so I give "Vicki" the slight edge here.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

Laird Cregar is wonderful, as always, making me regret that his career was so short. And what a great climax, when we learn why he was hounding Victor Mature.


Saw this movie for the first time last week (on MOVIES),  and they also showed the re-make Vicky the week before.  


Hard for me to say which version I like better.    Cregar was wonderful but Boone does a fine job.    Mature is a more well known actor and known for noir then the actor that played that part in Vicky so that adds an element.


The sisters in each of the films have more differences than the men;  I really liked how Betty Grable played the part of the sister.  Crain was good but I just like how Grable does it just a little more.   But I feel Jean Peters does a better job than Landis.   While the character is selfish Peters doesn't come off as harsh (in your face),  about this as much as Landis does. 

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  • 1 year later...

Podcast for I Wake up Screaming (dir. H. Bruce Humberstone)


I listened to Richard Edwards’s and Shannon Clute’s podcast of I Wake up Screaming (1941) because I love the movie and the book (and I especially love the title). You can find the podcast at Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir podcast (Episode 38, August 3, 2007). You can listen to it at


If the link is deleted, do an online search for Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir, and scroll down to Episode 38.


I’m going to focus on Clute and Edwards’s use of the term proto-noir to describe I Wake up Screaming because I would call this film a bona fide film noir.




Edwards points out the noir characteristics of the film, such as low-key expressive lighting, the authentic New York City milieu, the presence of Elisha Cook Jr. and his particular role in the film. Edwards also says, however, that the world of this film is still fundamentally intact, so it cannot be a true film noir, but I disagree with that assertion:

• Jill’s sister Vicky is dead, so it’s not quite true that the world of the film is intact.

• The detective Ed Cornell is dead by the end of the film. He might not be a sympathetic character, but viewers don’t have to root for him to understand what he represented in the film: corruption, sexual obsession, stalking. And the world of the film is, again, not intact.

• I’m not so sure that the effects of the Great Depression are lifting, as represented in this film. My favorite scene in the film comes when Jill Lynn and Frankie Christopher have just arrived on the sidewalk outside the Pegasus Club. Frankie meets an ex-boxer, an acquaintance of his, who is not doing so well: He still has “that ringing” in his head. Frankie is sympathetic and gives him some money for “a big dinner.” After the ex-boxer walks off, Jill asks Frankie about him.

• Jill: “He seemed to know you were going to give him that money.”

• Frankie: “Always do. I may be a has-been myself someday.”

I thought the scene showed Frankie’s generosity and caring for other people—and his recognition that poverty and need could happen to him at any moment.

• The shot of Frankie Christopher in shadow on the stairs in the Lynns’ apartment building doesn’t take the viewer out of the narrative thread (much like a throwaway shot or dance sequence would in a musical, as Dr. Edwards maintains). That shot is meant to show that Frankie is eavesdropping on Harry Williams and waiting for him to incriminate himself. That’s an important noir detail, an important part of Frankie’s own civilian investigation. (In the podcast, Shannon Clute includes other points that support the use of this shot in the film.)




The podcast about I Wake up Screaming offers many more points, and it’s worth listening to after watching the film for all the observations that Clute and Edwards make about it.

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