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I Wake Up Screaming (Fox Film Noir) (1941)

Betty Grable , Victor Mature , H. Bruce Humberstone  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Betty Grable, Victor Mature, Carole Landis, Laird Cregar, William Gargan
  • Directors: H. Bruce Humberstone
  • Writers: Dwight Taylor, Steve Fisher
  • Producers: Milton Sperling
  • Format: Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: June 6, 2006
  • Run Time: 82 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,167 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "I Wake Up Screaming (Fox Film Noir)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Commentary by film historian Eddie Muller
  • "Daddy" deleted scene
  • "Hot Spot" opening title treatment and poster gallery
  • Poster gallery
  • Production still gallery
  • Unit photography gallery
  • Trailer

Editorial Reviews

A great surprise ending marks this film noir classic, filled with taut suspense. Starring Betty Grable in a change-of-pace role.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
112 of 112 people found the following review helpful
"I Wake Up Screaming" was the first film noir made at 20th Century Fox. Its greatest distinction is its visual style whose low-key lighting and dark shadows would become archetypal of film noir after World War II. Cinematographer Edward Cronjager created a striking early example of "noir" lighting -what John Alton appropriately called "mystery lighting"- in this film made in 1941, before the United States entered the War. The story is based on the novel of the same name by Stephen Fisher, adapted for the screen by Dwight Taylor, who moved the action to New York, gave it a flashback structure, and turned it into one of those hybrids so common in pre-War Hollywood that combines multiple genres: Mystery, romance, musical (the singing scene was cut), comedy, suspense, and psychological drama. But the suspense does dominate.

When model and aspiring actress Vicky Lynn (Carole Landis) is murdered, the police are quick to blame Frankie Christopher (Victor Mature), a fight promoter who met Vicky when she was a waitress, introduced her to all the right people, and managed her ascent to glamour girl -until she left him for Hollywood. Vicky's down-to-earth sister Jill (Betty Grable) disapproved of her career choice but doesn't want to believe Frankie responsible for her death. The Assistant District Attorney thinks early on that the creepy switchboard operator (Elisha Cook, Jr.) at the Lynns' apartment building is the killer, but sadistic police detective Ed Cornell (Laird Cregar) won't let up on Frankie, constantly harassing and threatening him, leaving Frankie little choice but to find the killer himself.

"I Wake Up Screaming" opens with an eyecatching credit sequence of names in lights sprawled across a dark cityscape. That got my attention.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The 1941 film I Wake Up Screaming reportedly set the standard for this type of noir thriller and the good news is that it gets everything right. Incorporating a perfect blend of noir elements and emphasizing the flashback story, the atmospheric lighting, and, most of all, the inherent moral ambiguities of the main protagonists, I Wake Up Screaming is a riveting suspense thriller from beginning to end.

The movie begins with as well-known New York sports promoter Frankie Christopher (Victor Mature) is hauled down to the New York City police headquarters, a prime suspect in the murder of beautiful café waitress Vicky Lynn (Carole Landis) who Frankie has since helped become a flourishing model and prospective actress.

Of course, Frankie denies having anything to do with the crime but the massive detective squad commander Ed Cornell (Laird Cregar) is totally convinced if his guilt. Meanwhile, in the adjoining room, Vicky's sister Jill (Betty Grable) is also being questioned. She recently came to New York to stay with Vicky as a type of live-in maid and she was the first person to discover the body and saw Frankie standing over it.

As both Jill and Frankie recount their stories - in brilliantly edited flashbacks - we are introduced to a number of supporting suspects: There's a manipulative and self-serving journalist Larry Evans (Allyn Joslyn), aging actor Robin Ray (Alan Mowbray), and the creepy, sinister switchboard operator William Harrison (Elisha Cook Jr.) who works in Vicky's hotel and who packs Jill's luggage up without being asked.

Jill and Frankie are soon released. Jill just wants to forget the whole thing and move on, but Frankie pursues Jill, all the while maintaining his innocence.
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74 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Wake Up Screaming is a Top-Notch Noir Thriller! March 14, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I Wake Up Screaming (1941) is an excellent, atmospheric, pre - WWII Film Noir classic with Betty Grable, Victor Mature, Carole Landis, Laird Cregar and Elisha Cook, Jr. This under-rated film is a must for lover's of the genre. The cast is excellent, including Betty Grable who is best known for her Fox musicals. Laird Cregar is memorable in one of his best rolls of his short career, giving a complex and disturbing performance. The ending is a real chiller and you will be kept guessing as to who the murderer is. Check it out. You won't be disappointed. I rate this film up there with my other Film Noir favorites: Laura, Gilda, Double Indemnity, Out Of The Past, Woman In The Window and Murder My Sweet...footnote: The original title was Hot Spot, but Zanuck had it changed because as the film was to be released, USA entered WWII and he feared audiences might think it was a war movie. Fox re-made this film in 1953 as Vicki with Jeanne Crain and Jean Peters in the lead roles. However, Richard Boone's performance does not have the complexity and depth that Cregar brings to the role.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Betty Grable takes on the law to help clear boyfriend. August 22, 1999
Format:VHS Tape
When ambitious waitress Carole Landis reaches for Hollywood fame, she is found murdered in the apartment she shares with sister Betty Grable. Suspicion falls on Victor Mature's, Carole's promoter, but Betty believes in him and helps, through devious ploys, to unmask the real killer. Plenty of twists to keep you guessing in this exellent film noir, based on the book by Steve Fisher. Grable had one number to sing in this but, in order to sustain the dramatic content of the film, it was cut and Grable's occupation changed from songplugger to stenographer.
When previewed, this film (then entitled Hot Spot) was given the thumbs down by the audience - they thought they were in for a Grable musical treat. Zanuck and director Bruce Humberstone, re-edited the film and added new key scenes, working day and night to have it ready for its premiere. Reverted to its original title, it soon became a success and is a highly rated movie in its genre.
Laird Cregar steals the acting honours as the sinister detective investigating Landis's murder. And that excellent supporting actor, Elisha Cook Jr., is one of the "red herrings" under audience suspicion.
Cameraman Edward Cronjager does much to add to the atmosphere of this classic mystery with some fine low-key lighting and imaginative photography.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great title, but has nothing to do with the story...
A great film!! Seriously underrated!! I mean, come on!!! Laird Cregar & Victor Mature in the same film??? Seriously worth watching folks...
Published 4 days ago by Jude Barnes
5.0 out of 5 stars Get this film. You won't regret it.
A great whodunnit as well as film noir.
Published 28 days ago by Joseph McKinney
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 29 days ago by Princess Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars Betty Grable was my first childhood crush. This was ...
Betty Grable was my first childhood crush. This was her only serious role ever. I think she did very well. Just looking at that face is worth watching the movie.
Published 1 month ago by Frank Vollhardt
5.0 out of 5 stars I happen to be a great fan of "Film Noir" and this movie is at ...
I happen to be a great fan of "Film Noir" and this movie is at the top of the list for must see. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Fiona's Mom
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good suspenseful film. Betty Grable was excellent and the story kept you very interested.
Published 2 months ago by Bill M
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent dvd! The title itself says it all
Excellent dvd! The title itself says it all.
Published 2 months ago by Paul Landucci
3.0 out of 5 stars Who Killed a Young Woman?
I Wake Up Screaming, 1941 film

This is an average murder mystery. A young woman was killed, the police suspect her boyfriend Frankie. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ray Stephanson
3.0 out of 5 stars Good old Noir film.
Good old noir film. The camera work was spectacular, Many of these old films feature "bent" policemen. Read more
Published 3 months ago by kenneth s. fales
5.0 out of 5 stars Aww the Good old days with Good Old movies..
I've always loved Victure Mature. He was an outstanding actor. If you love old movies you have to have this one. Great Movie!
Published 3 months ago by LunaLady
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Where is Boomerang
cancelled due to legal problems...fortunately, i grabbed a copy before it was yanked from the me at if you'd like a copy. cheers!
Jun 30, 2006 by fifth angel |  See all 3 posts
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