I Wake Up Screaming

It’s one of the great titles, for sure. But curiously enough, when Victor Mature (“a melting waxwork of Dean Martin” — Comrade K) wakes up to find THIS in his bedroom, staring at him ~

Armchair Thriller 

~he doesn’t actually scream at all, just looks a bit miffed. Laird Cregar, for it is he growing out of the armchair, plays a pathologically twisted detective called Cornell, originally based on crime-writer Cornell Woolrich. As Steve Fisher described the character in his pulp novel ~

“He had red hair and thin white skin and red eyebrows and blue eyes. He looked sick. He looked like a corpse. His clothes didn’t fit him… He was frail, grey-faced and bitter. He was possessed with a macabre humour. His voice was nasal. You’d think he was crying. He might have had T.B. He looked like he couldn’t stand up in a wind.”

Cregar, who evidently took source novels seriously (cf his determined opposition to 20th Century Fox’s reconception of Patrick Hamilton’s Hangover Square) can’t actually look frail and wasted with his “build”, but he assumes a terrifying nasal twang that’s all the more disquietening when it emerges from a man of his bulk. It’s like Peter Lorre speaking from inside Pavarotti. And he sure looks like a corpse. It’s even worse when he smiles:

Smile

He proceeds to shamble around the room, looking for clues — a hair from a comb is carefully pressed into his notebook — until Mature orders him out, and then, as a final coup de theatre, strikes a violently flaming match to light his cigarette on the door an instant before it’s swung shut in his face.

Match Point

Now THAT, my friends, is a class act.

7 Responses to “I Wake Up Screaming”

  1. He’s always struck me as Sidney Greenstreet’s queerer kid brother.

  2. Hey pallie David, like what an interestin’ Dinoref…never heard that before.

  3. He could certainly play said role — and pretty much DOES in This Gun For Hire. But there are myriad Cregar modes and only one Greenstreet, which is not to knock SG. Tomorrow I’ll be arguing that the Cregar of Heaven Can Wait is a whole ‘nother animal.

  4. It would be fun to try and figure out what the final stage of a melting Dino would be…

  5. hey pallie david, technically our Dino would never melt…he is just too COOL for that!

  6. Well, we’re really talking about a wax effigy here. Although even then, I expect the temperatures involved would be far greater than normal.

    “Anymore goodbyes and they’re gonna have to CARRY me outta here… in a cigar box… baby.”

  7. […] while Laird Cregar in the movie version of IWUS cannot suggest the character’s slenderness, disbarred as he is by excess poundage, he nails […]

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