I Wake Up Screaming (1941)

Genre Defining

So, this is one of the classic Film Noir movies.  In my opinion if you are going to teach someone who knows nothing about Noir, this movie has to be in the top 10. 

I wake Up Screaming is considered only the second Film Noir movie in the genre, and sets the mood, even more than did The Maltese Falcon.  

Carol Landis with Victor Mature in club scene I wake up screaming

Incredible Cast

The film stars such greats as Victor Mature, Betty Grable and Carole Landis, although none really stand out.  For me that's a nice thing because it makes the movie a bit grittier and less focused on one famed actor.

Collage of scenes from I Wake Up Screaming

"Look at me—I'm IT."

Bosley Crowther, in the January 17th edition of the New York Times really didn't care for this movie writing, "In spite of the fact that it embodies many perceptible tricks of quality melodrama — flashbacks, sharp photography, menace music and a water-torture pace—Twentieth Century-Fox's "I Wake Up Screaming," ... is a pretty obvious whodunnit and a strangely unmoving affair. One very good explanation is that it moves with mechanical gravity and pretends to be more serious and portentous than the matter justifies. Another explanation is that the villain is too easy to spot; he practically carries a sign which reads, "Look at me—I'm IT." And a third—and most cogent—explanation is that three of the principal roles are played with virtually no distinction by Betty Grable, Victor Mature and Carole Landis.  Incidentally, the picture never does make clear who it is that wakes up screaming. (That would not be scramming, would it?)".  I really don't agree with ol' Bosley, but I love his frankness!

Here's a different take

The folks over at Reviews from the Bottom of the Barrel seem to like it a bit better, and they point out that if The Maltese Falcon is considered the first Film Noir movie, then this is the second because they were being filmed at the same time, and Elisha Cook Jr. even had scheduling issues because he was in both.  Here's their take, "The movie is pretty strong overall, but it also has some parts that feel out of place. The burgeoning romance between Frankie & Jill is in itself okay, in theory, but it doesn't really work because there are very few sparks flying between Betty Grable and Victor Mature.  There is also a scene between them that feels quite out-of-place, and not even because of their lack of romantic chemistry. After taking Jill/Betty out one night, Frankie/Victor tells her he enjoys a late night swim, so they end up in a public indoor pool. This part was clearly meant to show off Betty Grable's famous legs (she wasn't called 'The Girl WithThe Million Dollar Legs' without a reason) and Victor Mature's fit body (while still smoking inside a public pool!)".  They even noted something that caught my attention, the repeated use of Somewhere over the Rainbow as part of the soundtrack.  I tried to notice if this happened at happier moments only, but it was too mixed.  The Bottom of the Barrel folks said, "SomewhereOver The Rainbow' is much more problematic to me. It's far too sentimental and, dare I say it, boring to belong in this type of movie". 

 Here's the trailer:

Insert YouTube Trailer if Available
Robin Ray: Women are all alike!
Larry Evans: For Pete's sake, what difference does that make? You've got to have them, they're standard equipment.

RATED: Very Good


DO I WANT TO OWN IT?:  No need it's on all the outlets 

Thanks for stopping by - see ya at the movies!

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