Review: I Wake Up Screaming

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I Wake Up Screaming is from 1941 and is based on the book by Steve Fisher, I have not read the book yet but will keep my eye out for a copy.  The films two main stars are Betty Grable and Victor Mature and is Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone.

This film was also released in England under the title Hot Spot.

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The star who I found most interesting is Carole Landis who plays Vicky.  She was the classic beauty who was trying to get ahead, using her looks and charms to get a career in entertainment, no matter who she hurt.  She is a classic femme fatale for this story. I didn’t know much about her so I did a little research to see why I have not seen her in anything before, at least anything I remember.  Turns out after giving the entertainment business her best shot she committed suicide at the age of 29.  It’s to bad, she seemed to have some talent, maybe her character from this film was a lot like the real life Landis.

Our story starts with Vicki being the center of attention for a lot of men, men who easily fall in love with her.  Vicky lives with her more down to earth sister played by Grable in an apartment.  We find our hero played by Mature under the bright light in the integration room, but he is as cool as a cucumber.  We soon find out he is being questioned for Vicky’s murder.  The story is told with a number of flashbacks as we find out bits and pieces to why Vicky may have been killed.  We also learn about our suspects, including Mature and 2 of his friends as the main suspects.  We soon learn Vicky had more than these three men in her life. Grable soon helps Mature, who is our prime suspect as they weed through the clues.  One of my favorite character actors, Elisha Cook Jr., appears as the phone board operator in the building our sisters live in. I also liked Laird Cregar who played our hardboiled tough guy cop that is out to get our hero.

This film was remade a few years later in 1953 as Vicki.  I have not seen this one yet and hope to watch it soon and compare it to this film.  By all accounts this original film is the superior movie.

This story has some great twists and turns, some good dialog, but what stood out to me is the classic film noir style of black and white filming.  The shadow play is very interesting and visually stimulating.  I enjoyed this one and think any classic film noir fan will enjoy it too.

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