Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 311: I Wake Up Screaming (1941 ) - Rank 3.5/5


Fox's first attempt at film noir (also released as "Hot Shot") is a satisfying venture into the genre, but it pales in comparison with some of its brethren. This is primarily due to its predictability. Granted, film noir plots do stick to a series of well-played conventions, but not all of them possess outcomes that are foreseeable fifteen minutes in. Victor Mature stars in one of his earlier leading man roles and generates a presence that demonstrates why he achieved a matinee idol status, just as Robert Mitchum did in "Out of the Past" (though it doesn't rival Mature's tortured performance in "Kiss of Death"). He's a promoter who takes on a waitress as a client on a dare and soon finds himself the target of a merciless police department when she mysteriously turns up dead.

The moment that Laird Cregar popped up in the credits, my spirits were buoyed, for I've enjoyed the few roles I've seen with the character actor, whose five year career was cut all to short by a heart attack. But as soon as Cregar strolls on as the detective on the case, the audience knows that he's the killer. You don't know how or when he did it, but there's no doubt in your mind that he knows more about the death than he lets on. Casting like that is about as logical as casting Rondo Hatton as the main suspect and then trying to convince the audience that he's innocent - it just ain't gonna work. It would have been more logical to use Cregar's corrupt detective as a red herring, but alas, the film progresses along a rather played (though still entertaining) path. Cool score, though.

Watch the Trailer

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