Celebrating B Movies, Cult Films, and Indie Classics.

I Wake Up Screaming (1941)

by  |  July 27th, 2011  |  Thriller

There was a sub-genre of films that I am certain can never be remade or could have continued on past when it did… These movies being the classic Crime-Noir films that were really popular in the 1930s and 1940s…

Now I myself have never had much of an opportunity to be able to watch these films, as by the time I was able to really watch these types of films, most of them had become the province of my grandparents, or sometimes in the novels that I read when I was a kid (I mean after all, most of these Pre World War 2/World War 2 era films were 40 to 50 years old when I was born!)

Fortunately though I was able to finally get to my first one with I Wake Up Screaming (1941)…

Written by: Dwight Taylor (Batman), and Directed by: H. Bruce Humberstone (Wonder Man).  Starring: Victor Mature (Kiss Of Death), Betty Grable (How To Marry A Millionaire), Carole Landis (One Million B.C.) and Laird Cregar (Hangover Square).

This movie tells the story of Sports promoter, Frankie Christopher (Mature) and sister of murdered celebrity Vicky Lynn (Landis), Jill Lynn (Grable).

Jill Lynn (Grable) and Frankie Christopher (Mature)

You see the movie begins just after Vicky Lynn’s murder, with Frankie Christopher (her manager) and Jill having been brought in for questioning in connection with Vicky’s murder.

Frankie, who is in the interrogation room under the spot light, is telling his story to a group of New York City Police Inspectors, which includes Inspector Ed Cornell (Cregar), about how he and his friends, aging actor, Robin Ray (Played by: William Mowbray), and a columnist by the name of Larry Evans (Played by: Allyn Joslyn), turned Vicky Lynn from a a ‘hash slinger’ up to becoming a super star of the time, and his side of the story leading up to Vicky’s death.

After Inspector Cornell is done with Frankie, he heads over to where Jill Lynn is sitting at a desk waiting to be interrogated…

Before Inspector Cornell arrives at the office where Jill is. Jill is sitting at a table relating her story to another Inspector, about how she came to know Frankie (You can probably guess at the fact that Frankie is the Police’s main suspect.) Anyway she keeps answering the Inspectors questions until she mentions about a strange peeping Tom that was watching Vicky…

As luck would have it, it turned out that the person stalking Vicky was none other the Police Inspector Ed Cornell, and that he was with another Inspector at the time of Vicky’s death, how do we know?  Well simply put Cornell comes walking in to the room and asks Jill about a drive that Frankie, Vicky and herself had taken the day before she was murdered…

Jill, Vicky and Frankie, as they are taking a drive on the last day of Vicky's life.

Anyway, with out anything to hold Frankie on, Frankie and Jill are released and freed to go…

Of course during this time, Inspector Cornell begins stalking Frankie, convinced that he did it, despite the evidence that Vicky’s Door Man is probably the murderer. (He even goes so far as to be sitting in Frankie’s bedroom while Frankie is sleeping, waiting to see if Frankie would slip up…

Now the reason that people begin to suspect the door man at Vicky and Jill’s apartment complex is the fact that, the door man had gone missing during the time that Vicky was murdered… Although supposedly he had been in Brooklyn visiting his folks…

With that said, and with the Police chasing them (along with a particularly persistent Inspector Cornell), it is now up to Jill and Vicky to find out who killed Jill’s sister, before they end up getting pinched for a crime that they didn’t commit!

Jill trying to break Frankie out of some handcuffs.

Now what I like about this movie and what I truly believe really does make this an Awesome B Movie is a couple of things:

1. Betty Grable, and Victor Mature.  I mean all of the other actors in this film were fantastic, but it was a real treat for me personally to be able to see for the first time, 2 huge Hollywood names from what some consider to be ‘the Golden Age of Hollywood’!

2. I also thought that you guys might find it interesting that this movie utilized some great music from other classic movies of that time, such as, ‘Over The Rainbow’ from The Wizard Of Oz (1939) and Alfred Newman’s score from Street Scene (1931).

3. Another thing that I thought was cool, and that really demonstrated the gums-hon of some of these actors from back in the day… Laird Cregar, who during shooting of the movie, went on a Police ride-along and ended up getting caught up in a shooting.  Also Mr. Cregar, who went in for an emergency appendectomy still showed up for work not long after (despite his Doctor’s objections!)

4. The last thing that I thought that I would mention is that this movie was remade in to a movie called, Vicki (1953)

With that said folks, if your looking for a truly classic Crime-Noir piece, to watch by yourself, or with the one you love. I highly recommend this one, it is truly AWESOME!

Nathan Strack


Nathan Strack is a Writer/Director/Filmmaker & Owner/Founder of: Hell In Space, Strack Web Design Service & Strack Store.

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