Fun With Noir: “I Wake Up Screaming”

In I Wake Up Screaming (1941) a model called Vicky Lynn (Carole Landis) gets murdered, and the investigating police department is pretty inept about the matter.  It allows big Ed Cornell (Laird Cregar) to do some very shoddy police work, for he tries to pin the murder on Victor Mature‘s Frankie, a dubious suspect.  He cares not a whit about other suspects. . . This flick by director Bruce Humberstone was the first film noir from Twentieth Century Fox, and though forgettable it’s watchable.  Mature is paired with Betty Grable, as Vicky’s sister, with an appealing housewife’s beauty and a performance not much different from that of any other old-time Hollywood actress.  It’s standard issue.  She is, at any rate, interesting, unlike Carole Landis, who is interesting only in her looks.

Adapted from a novel by Steve Fisher, Screaming was well handled by screenwriter Dwight Taylor.  Humberstone and his actors respect what a distinctly masculine affair it all is, and, really, nobody is even shedding tears over poor Vicky’s terrible death.  For her part, Grable’s character is too busy falling in love.

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