I Wake Up Screaming

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I Wake Up Screaming
I wake up screaming.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byH. Bruce Humberstone
Produced byMilton Sperling
Screenplay byDwight Taylor
Steve Fisher
Based onI Wake Up Screaming
1941 novel
by Steve Fisher
StarringBetty Grable
Victor Mature
Carole Landis
Laird Cregar
Music byCyril J. Mockridge
CinematographyEdward Cronjager
Edited byRobert L. Simpson
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • November 14, 1941 (1941-11-14) (United States)
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,491,500[1]

I Wake Up Screaming (originally titled Hot Spot) is a 1941 film noir.[2] It is based on the novel of the same name by Steve Fisher, who co-wrote the screenplay with Dwight Taylor. The film stars Betty Grable, Victor Mature and Carole Landis, and features one of Grable's few dramatic roles.


A young promoter, Frankie Christopher (Victor Mature), is accused of the murder of Vicky Lynn (Carole Landis), a young actress he "discovered" as a waitress while out with ex-actor Robin Ray (Alan Mowbray) and gossip columnist Larry Evans (Allyn Joslyn).

Frankie hides out with Vicky's sister, Jill (Betty Grable), with whom he is falling in love, but is eventually captured and interrogated by the cops. An obsessive police officer, Cornell (Laird Cregar), knows that Frankie is innocent but because the evidence is completely incriminating, he tries to put the suspect behind bars anyway. Frankie escapes and eventually finds the murderer's true identity.



The movie was originally known as I Wake Up Screaming. Its title was then changed to Hot Spot. It was the first film Mature made under his contract with 20th Century Fox. Mature, Carole Landis and Alice Faye were meant to star.[3] Faye was replaced by Betty Grable. The title was eventually changed back to I Wake Up Screaming although it was released in some markets as Hot Spot.

The film was remade in 1953 as Vicki.[2]


Box Office[edit]

The film earned a profit of $574,100.[1]

Critical response[edit]

Film critic Dennis Schwartz gave the film a favorable review, writing, "Veteran Fox studio director H. Bruce Humberstone (Charlie Chan at the Opera/Sun Valley Serenade), whose films ranged from Charlie Chan to Tarzan, puts forth his best effort in this thrilling film noir. I Wake Up Screaming was remade in 1953 as Vicki. Dwight Taylor bases his screenplay on the book by pulp writer Steve Fisher. In a jarring move that works in an odd way, 'Somewhere over the Rainbow' is the soundtrack that can be heard throughout. This early film noir, shot in a naturalistic style, showed how dark photography can increase a brooding mood and make the film more tense ... The conclusion is filled with plot twists and surprise character revelations, as the marvelously sinister performance by Laird Cregar as the sicko detective dominates the screen."[4]


The film's score was made up of "Over the Rainbow" and the theme from the 1931 film Street Scene, written by Alfred Newman.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Mank, Gregory William (2018). Laird Cregar: A Hollywood Tragedy. McFarland.
  2. ^ a b Mayer, Geoff and Brian McDonnell. Encyclopedia of film noir (2007: Greenwood Publishing Company). page 226. ISBN 978-0-313-33306-4
  3. ^ SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Goldwyn to Film the Life of Lou Gehrig -- Picture Listed for Release Next Year DANCE HALL' HERE FRIDAY Carole Landis and Romero in Roxy Feature -- 'Stars Look Down' Opens July 23 By DOUGLAS W. CHURCHILL Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 15 July 1941: 22.
  4. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, December 20, 2004. Accessed: July 10, 2013.
  5. ^ Beck, Jay and Tony Grajeda. Lowering the Boom: Critical Studies in Film Sound (2008: University of Illinois Press). page 114. ISBN 0-252-07532-3

External links[edit]