Screaming Mimi (film)

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Screaming Mimi
Screaming mimi poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Gerd Oswald
Produced by Harry Joe Brown
Robert Fellows
Screenplay by Robert Blees
Based on The Screaming Mimi
1949 novel
by Fredric Brown
Starring Anita Ekberg
Philip Carey
Gypsy Rose Lee
Harry Townes
Music by Mischa Bakaleinikoff
Cinematography Burnett Guffey
Edited by Gene Havlick
Jerome Thoms
Sage Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • June 25, 1958 (1958-06-25) (United States)
Running time
79 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Screaming Mimi is a 1958 film noir directed by Gerd Oswald, and based on the novel by pulp novelist Fredric Brown. The film features Anita Ekberg, Philip Carey, Gypsy Rose Lee, among others.[1] It has never received an official video release in the U.S.


In the opening scene set in Southern California, while Virginia Wilson (Anita Ekberg) is taking an outside beach shower, an escaped madman from the sanitarium shows up. He stabs her dog, Rusty [Devil was the name of her second dog], attacks her and is then shot to death by her stepbrother, Charlie (Romney Brent), with a rifle.

After the attack, Virginia is committed to a sanitarium. The psychiatrist falls in love with her. He fakes her death, and they go on the lam. Virginia ends up dancing at the El Madhouse night club run by Gypsy Rose Lee. Lee performs "Put the Blame on Mame," the classic noir theme from the film Gilda.

All the while Virginia is being stalked by a serial killer.



Critical response[edit]

Richard W. Nason, film critic for The New York Times, wrote, "It is a modern case of an artist's unintended voodoo over a girl who undergoes a traumatic experience. It is an effective film of its kind, thanks to some reflective dialogue by Robert Blees and a sense of suspense on the part of Gerd Oswald, the director. Anita Ekberg, who does more acting here than before, is the star. Gypsy Rose Lee and Phil Carey are also on the ball."[2]

Film critic Dennis Dennis Schwartz gave the film a mixed review, writing, "This twisted thriller is a scream in all the wrong ways ... The film is badly handled by the lackluster direction of the German born filmmaker Gerd Oswald ... who fails to make it provocative despite it screaming out to be provocative ... Everything about this unhinged '50s B-movie is a bit kinky, and even the reporter hero is an obnoxious sort who is taken by Yolanda because of her big boobs and is generally perceived as an unlikable pushy know-it-all character, who seems to be in love with himself. While Greenwood is so shrill and acts so wooden and crazed, that it's hard to imagine that he's a shrink. It's a delusional film that seems fit for fetishists, voyeurs, those seeking a lurid oddball film with innovative noirish B/W photography by the great Burnett Guffey and, is especially suited, for lovers of bad-movies."[3]


A similar film, much more loosely based on Fredric Brown's novel, was made in 1970 as The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, directed by Dario Argento.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

A clothing store in New York City is called Screaming Mimi's; it was the place where Cyndi Lauper bought most of the clothing she wore in the early phase of her career. After she won her two Grammy Awards at the 27th Grammy Awards, she thanked the store, which then saw an increase in sales. There are also several places called Screaming Mimi's around the world, most being restaurants. The name also features in Last Action Hero, the 1993 American cult comic fantasy action film directed and produced by John McTiernan, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Screaming Mimi at the Internet Movie Database.
  2. ^ Nason, Richard W. The New York Times, film review, June 26, 1958. Last accessed: January 27, 2008.
  3. ^ Schwartz, Dennis, film review, Ozus' World Movie Reviews, June 1, 2008. Accessed: July 2, 2013.
  4. ^ L' Uccello dalle piume di cristallo at the Internet Movie Database.

External links[edit]