With Halloween over but still lingering in our devilish minds, #BNoirDetour on Sunday 11/1 presents a day-after treat with a title that sounds like pure horror but a film that’s pure noir, based on an original story by Dashiell Hammett.


I Wake Up Screaming (1941) features the dark and shadowy camerawork a good noir needs along with a murder mystery plot complete with twists, turns, and tough-talking cops. The reliance on flashbacks adds to the effect.

Victor Mature as Frankie Christopher  is trapped, literally and cinematographically.
Frankie (Victor Mature) is trapped, literally and cinematographically.

Our central male character is Victor Mature’s Frankie Christopher, a promoter who shifts from managing fighters to fashion models–or rather just one model, Miss Vicki Lynn (Carole Landis). He raises her from waitress to gorgeous gal about town in a flash, and her career takes off. But soon her ego swells along with her bank book, and she declares her intention to head for Hollywood.

Everyone who is anyone wants a taste of Vicki Lynn (Carole Landis).
Everyone who is anyone wants a taste of Vicki Lynn (Carole Landis), even the older yet arduous Robin Ray (Alan Mowbry).

Before she she can strike out on her own, however, someone strikes her dead. And the prime suspect is jilted manager Frankie. The cops grill him, but he never changes his story: he’s innocent and he doesn’t know who did it.

The cops grill Frankie about Vicki's murder.
The cops grill Frankie about Vicki’s murder.

One cop in particular, Ed Cornell (Laird Cregar), is entirely certain Frankie did it, and he’s not above bending the law to prove it. (Cregar is the horror element in this film, brilliant in his taut, cruel performance and the most likely reason for the title.)

Ed Cornel (Laird Cregar) makes Frankie sweat, in more ways than one.
Ed Cornel (Laird Cregar) makes Frankie sweat, both in and out of the police station.

If Vicki Lynn is our femme fatale lite in this film, then our angel of goodness is her sister, Jill Lynn (Betty Grable). Her attitude toward Frankie shifts as the film develops, and she’s all one could want of a spunky yet prim young woman of the era. (I’d rather have more bad girls, but oh well.)

Good girl, bad girl, and the man on the hot seat.
Good girl, bad girl, and the man on the hot seat.

So there’s the pitch. Join #BNoirDetour on Sunday 11/1 at 9pm ET for I Wake Up Screaming.