Saturday, February 14, 2009

Tonight's Movie: Vicki (1953)

Beautiful model VICKI (Jean Peters) turns up dead. Whodunit? Suspects include her publicist (Elliott Reid), her sister (Jeanne Crain), a creepy hotel clerk (Aaron Spelling), and a gossip columnist (Casey Adams, who later acted under the name Max Showalter). Two detectives (Richard Boone and Carl Betz) are on the case.

VICKI is a remake of 1941's I WAKE UP SCREAMING, which starred Betty Grable, Carole Landis, and Victor Mature. While I WAKE UP SCREAMING, one of the earliest entries in the film noir genre, is a classic, VICKI is not on the same level as its predecessor. Nonetheless, VICKI is well-done, engrossing entertainment with a good cast. It's worth a look for those who enjoy murder mysteries or the work of Jeanne Crain and Jean Peters.

Besides being a remake of I WAKE UP SCREAMING, VICKI also seems to pay homage to another 20th Century-Fox classic of the '40s, LAURA. VICKI opens with a portrait of Jean Peters which seems to have been more than a little inspired by the famous painting of Gene Tierney as LAURA.

An informative biography of Jean Peters was posted at Film Journal in 2007. Peters' films included CAPTAIN FROM CASTILE, THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN, and A MAN CALLED PETER. Links to other Peters films are at the conclusion of this post.

VICKI was filmed in black and white and runs 85 minutes. The supporting cast includes John Dehner and Alex D'Arcy.

VICKI was directed by Harry Horner, father of composer James Horner. Director Horner was also a production designer who won Oscars for his work on THE HEIRESS (1949) and THE HUSTLER (1961).

The film is available in a beautiful print on DVD as Fox Film Noir No. 19. Extras include a commentary track, the trailer, and production and publicity stills. It does not appear to have had a VHS release.

Jeanne Crain and Jean Peters also costarred in TAKE CARE OF MY LITTLE GIRL (1951), which was reviewed here just a couple of weeks ago. Off camera, Crain and Peters were close friends. Other Jean Peters films previously reviewed here are PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET (1953) and BROKEN LANCE (1954). Reviews of Jeanne Crain films include STATE FAIR (1945), APARTMENT FOR PEGGY (1948), A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (1949), DANGEROUS CROSSING (1953), THE FASTEST GUN ALIVE (1956), and SKYJACKED (1972).


Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

I've been meaning to watch another Jean Peters film, so I put Vicki on my Netflix queue. Thanks!

Do you recommend I watch I Wake Up Screaming before this one?

10:06 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

Is that the same Aaron Spelling who was later a big producer of various inane television series?

10:45 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Raquelle, I'd say you could go either way -- watch the classic first to see how it was done best, or work your way up to it after seeing VICKI. :) Some of the great things about the original are the score (which utilizes Alfred Newman's "Street Scene" over the opening credits and borrows MGM's then-recent hit "Over the Rainbow") and the cinematography (I still remember a scene with the shadows of Venetian blinds -- so cool). Plus there's a great commentary track by Eddie Muller.

Dana, it's the same Aaron Spelling! He started out as an actor and boy, was he strange-looking. When his character gets scared, his eyes bug out and there are huge whites all the way around his pupils.

Best wishes,

12:10 PM  

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