Si Muero antes de despertar (If I Should Die Before I Wake). 1952. Argentina. Directed by Carlos Hugo Christensen. In Spanish; English subtitles. 73 min.
Produced and directed by Carlos Hugo Christensen. Screenplay by Alejandro Casona, based on a short story by Cornell Woolrich (William Irish). Studios San Miguel originally intended this to be the third part of a William Irish trilogy that began in Never Open That Door, but instead decided to release it as a standalone feature. Presaging the haunting imagery and breathless suspense of The Night of the Hunter (still three years off), this painfully Woolrichian coming-of-age story contains poignant echoes of the author’s own fearful childhood. A carefree young boy (Nestor Zavarce), thought hopelessly delinquent by his police-officer father, learns harsh lessons in life, loyalty, and courage when he realizes several female classmates are the victims of a serial killer—and he attempts to track down the culprit on his own. Framed as a children’s fairy tale, the film grows relentlessly darker, culminating in a terrifying sequence that would never have made it past Hollywood censors. Preserved (in the nick of time!) by the Film Noir Foundation in a newly subtitled 35mm print; from the Film Noir Foundation Collection at UCLA Film & Television Archive