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I Wake Up Screaming was produced concurrently with The Maltese Falcon and released shortly after, and thus stands as one of the earliest examples of noir. The Maltese Falcon is the more uniform achievement, successfully coupling a consistent noir visual style with noir themes of disillusionment. But for these very reasons I Wake Up Screaming may be the more important film to scholars of noir. It vacillates between a 1930's-style love story and a war-era tale of existentialist dread, between traditional light-saturated, protagonist-centered staging and elaborate off-kilter compositions bathed in darkness. It is a Janus film, and it is debatable whether it looks primarily backwards or forwards, is principally an ending or a beginning. This podcast is brought to you by Clute and Edwards, of www.noircast.net. To leave a comment on this episode, or make a donation to the podcast, please visit "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir" at outofthepast.libsyn.com.
Direct download: OOTP_2007_08_01_IWUS.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:38 PM
Comments[4]

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  • First, thanks for the mention in the \\\'cast. I also wanted to say that Laird Cregar was just perfect in the film. He was the highlight of the movie in my opinion. Boy could he play a creepy guy.

    posted by: Steve-O on 2007-08-22 23:47:00

  • One element of I Wake Up Screaming that might bear further exploration is its connection to Pygmalion and Frankenstein: Frankie\'s plan to promote Vicky into high society is almost identical to Henry Higgins\' plan for Eliza Doolittle; later, when Vicky gives Frankie the news that she\'s moving to Hollywood, she declares her independence with the line \"I\'m no Frankenstein, you know!\" Both Frankenstein and Pygmalion are narratives about creations that come back to haunt, even destroy, their creators. What I find striking is that Frankie doesn\'t fall for a refined Vicky, he falls for her much less malleable (i.e. self-created) sister Jill. Noir is very much interested in the quintessentially American notion of \'making something\' of yourself (e.g. Mildred Pierce) and this film seems to argue that Vicky\'s death is due in part to her own lack of self-autonomy or self-fashioning -- she allowed others to fashion her life for her, and that itself is either a form of death or a certain path unto it.

    posted by: Kendo on 2010-02-01 16:33:00

  • Hi Guys, I enjoyed the show - especially the essential disagreement at the heart of it. Personally, film seems to me the most \\\'present\\\' medium and the \\\'backward\\\' processing of film analysis is kind of unavoidable as the film in question evolves with the world around it. Also, taking into account what a multifarious project a film is (simply in the amount of people it takes to get it together and the mixture of authorial voices: producer, director, screenwriter, lighting, sound, director of photography etc.), it\\\'s hard to guess at authorial intent and the only reasonable position, i think, is to assume that everything is intended (by someone). I was surprised you didn;t touch on the demented ending of the film a little more, one of the all time most unsettling revelations in film noir. Also, the ending is a rarity, showing as it does the tainted lives that investigator\\\'s lead, cut from the same cloth as the criminals they seek. Paolo Paolo P

    posted by: Paolo on 2007-08-05 14:05:00

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