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"Vicki" (1953)


lydecker
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If you've seen I WAKE UP SCREAMING, then you've already seen the superior version of VICKI.  It's not a bad film by any means, and Richard Boone comes close to Laird Cregar in terms of performance, it's just unnecessary. I admit that I would have burst out laughing in the casting session that had someone say "How about Elliott Reid in the Victor Mature role?"

 

The last time that I saw it, I still had The Fox Movie Channel, so that's probably where I caught it.

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Fox must have been trying to find a suitable villain a la Laird Cregar. Shortly after VICKI, they redid THE LODGER as MAN IN THE ATTIC, with Jack Palace playing Jack the Ripper this time.

 

I prefer Crain and Peters, just barely, over Betty Grable and Carole Landis. Grable showed she could be effective in a dramatic role, despite her uncertainty; she would use her "only Technicolor films" clause of her contract to beg out of similar dramatic fare, notably another notable noir, PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET (whose role would eventually go to Peters), then going by the title of BLAZE OF GLORY. Speaking of provisional titles, IWUS was to be released as HOT SPOT, but the studio thought it would have people thinking it was another Grable musical. Betty actually filmed a song with that title, but it was decided not to use it. It is an extra on the dvd; it is worked into the storyline with her previewing the song for a customer at the department store where she worked.

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"We need a leading man -- get me Elliot Reed!!!" ranks high in my personal pantheon of great Hollywood notions.

 

Although nothing in Vicki can approach Reed's masterpiece The Whip Hand -- watching Elliot battle commies is a bit like seeing Tony Randall as Wyatt Earp at the OK Corral -- it's still an impressive achievement, my fave moment being the climax when our hero gets all macho with psycho killer Richard Boone.

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I like VICKI for two reasons; it has a good storyline and I like seeing the two gals (Jean Peters and Jeanne Crain) on the screen (hey its a buy one get one free deal ;) ).         Other than that its just a formula assembly line film that the big studios did all of the time. Everyone in the cast was a contract player and the story was just taken off the shelf and dusted off for a redo.  In fact the remake is a little too much like the first film, which shows the Fox studio was doing it on a tight budget.  End result, a decently entertaining film but nothing extraordinary. As for the casting of Elliot Reid, the manager needed to bring a player off the bench to pinch hit and the other players had already been used in the game. You go with what you got.

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If you've seen I WAKE UP SCREAMING, then you've already seen the superior version of VICKI.  It's not a bad film by any means, and Richard Boone comes close to Laird Cregar in terms of performance, it's just unnecessary. I admit that I would have burst out laughing in the casting session that had someone say "How about Elliott Reid in the Victor Mature role?"

 

The last time that I saw it, I still had The Fox Movie Channel, so that's probably where I caught it.

LOL.  Elliott Reid channelling Victor Mature??  Pretty hysterical.

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I've seen both versions several times each, and while they're clearly standard issue formula movies, they still keep your attention from beginning to end.  What really surprised me is just how well cast Richard Boone was in Laird Cregar's role of the perverted detective Ed Cornell.  Two different "looks"---one slightly effeminate, the other who looks like he was shot through the forest and hit every tree---but both highly credible for the part.   About the only reasons I like I Wake Up Screaming a bit better are Victor Mature, Elisha Cook Jr., and of course the classic

, but they're both among the better noirs.

 

BTW here's the full version of Vicki on You Tube.

 

 

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