I Wake Up Screaming
|I Wake Up Screaming|
|Directed by||H. Bruce Humberstone|
|Produced by||Milton Sperling|
|Screenplay by||Dwight Taylor|
|Based on||I Wake Up Screaming|
by Steve Fisher
|Music by||Cyril J. Mockridge|
|Edited by||Robert L. Simpson|
20th Century Fox
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
I Wake Up Screaming (originally titled Hot Spot) is a 1941 film noir. 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.
The story proceeds largely through a series of flashbacks, beginning with New York sports promoter Frankie Christopher (Victor Mature) being interrogated at a police station about the murder of a young actress, Vicky Lynn (Carole Landis). Christopher recounts first meeting Vicky as a waitress at a restaurant when he was there with two friends, fading actor Robin Ray (Alan Mowbray) and gossip columnist Larry Evans (Allyn Joslyn). Christopher takes up a dare from his friends to turn Vicky into a star with their help.
Christopher succeeds, but Vicky betrays him by signing with a Hollywood producer. At the apartment she shares with her sister Jill (Betty Grable), she finally tells Christopher she is leaving him while she is packing. Christopher reacts angrily, and the next morning Jill returns to the apartment to find her sister dead with Christopher standing by her body.
Not having enough evidence to hold Christopher for the murder, detective Ed Cornell (Laird Cregar) lets him go, but is absolutely certain of Christopher's guilt and vows to bring him to justice. Hounded by Cornell, who abuses his power, entering Christopher's home and other residences without warrants, Christopher turns to Jill, who had not liked him very much but does not think that he could have killed her sister.
As Jill and Frankie begin to fall in love, they follow Vicky's previous movements and encounters to find the real killer. Eventually, they conclude that she had been killed by the apartment building's front desk manager, Harry Williams (Elisha Cook, Jr..) Williams admits to the crime, but also tells Frankie that Cornell already knew of his guilt. Christopher, with the police close behind, goes to Cornell's apartment, which he discovers is plastered with posters of Vicky, leading to a final confrontation in which Cornell admits to trying frame Christopher, due to jealousy over Vicky.
- Betty Grable as Jill Lynn
- Victor Mature as Frankie Christopher
- Carole Landis as Vicky Lynn
- Laird Cregar as Ed Cornell
- Alan Mowbray as Robin Ray
- Allyn Joslyn as Larry Evans
- Elisha Cook, Jr. as Harry Williams
- Chick Chandler as Reporter
- Cyril Ring as Reporter
- Morris Ankrum as Asst. District Attorney
- Charles Lane as Mr. Keating, Florist
- Frank Orth as Caretaker
- Gregory Gaye as Headwaiter
- May Beatty as Mrs. Handel
- Stanley Blystone as Detective (uncredited)
- Heinie Conklin as Pedestrian (uncredited)
The movie was originally titled I Wake Up Screaming before its title was changed to Hot Spot and then back to I Wake Up Screaming, although it was released in some markets as Hot Spot. It was Mature's first film under his contract with 20th Century Fox. Alice Faye was originally cast as Jill but was replaced by Betty Grable.
The film earned a profit of $574,100.
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."
The film's score contained "Over the Rainbow" and the theme from the 1931 film Street Scene, written by Alfred Newman. Also heard in the background is "These Are the Things I Love", written by Harold Barlow and Lewis Harris, which became a popular ballad during the big-band era.
- Mank, Gregory William (2018). Laird Cregar: A Hollywood Tragedy. McFarland.
- Mayer, Geoff and Brian McDonnell. Encyclopedia of film noir (2007: Greenwood Publishing Company). page 226. ISBN 978-0-313-33306-4
- DOUGLAS W. CHURCHILL (July 15, 1941). "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". New York Times. p. 22.
- Louella O. Parsons (syndicated column), San Francisco Examiner, March 18, 1941.
- Schwartz, Dennis Archived 2013-10-04 at the Wayback Machine. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, December 20, 2004. Accessed: July 10, 2013.
- 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