I Wake Up Screaming
Time Out saysA fine thriller in which the familiar situation of the man wrongly accused of his girl's murder is given a number of brilliant twists. Visually, adhering to the Fox style, the film is basically naturalistic, but its mood becomes increasingly murky as the hero plumbs the depths of nightmare, culminating in his discovery that the obese, soft-spoken detective relentlessly hounding him (the marvellously sinister Cregar) knows he didn't kill her but, himself hopelessly infatuated with the dead girl, blames him for her death and means to exact a perverse vengeance. Intimations of noir proliferate in the fact that the dead girl's sister is irresistibly attracted to the presumed killer, in the sleazy little dream world inhabited by the real killer, and in a scene of nightmarish ambivalence where the hero wakes to find the detective brooding lovingly over him as he sleeps. It's a pity that the script, developing cold feet, prevents the film from developing its full noir potential by toning down Steve Fisher's source novel in several respects. Most notably, Fisher's detective (intriguingly, a pen portrait of Cornell Woolrich), was presented as a man dying of TB ('He looked sick. He looked like a corpse. His clothes didn't fit him'); this sickness, creeping like a cancer through the story, made more sense of his obsessive vendetta against a man healthy enough not only to live but to win love.