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To his lasting credit, Tyrone Power--20th Century Fox's extraordinarily handsome but not terribly interesting star of the '30s and '40s--begged for the chance to play Stan Carlisle, the predatory charmer who snakes his way through this bracingly unwholesome story. A spieler for--and lover of--carnival mind reader Zeena (Joan Blondell), he displays uncanny skill at "reading" the susceptible rubes, including a tough sheriff who turns to jelly after Stan psychs him out. Once Stan's mastered the intricate code used in Zeena's act, he's set to dump her for the younger, sexier Molly (Coleen Gray) and go bigtime as nightclub psychic "Stanton the Great." After that, it's only a blasphemous bank shot to superstardom as a miracle worker with his own tabernacle and radio show.
Few '40s films ventured as deeply into cynicism as Nightmare Alley, or dealt so frankly with sexuality (with ripplings of polymorphous perversity yet) and power-tripping. The movie's rhythm is uncertain and Jules Furthman's screenplay telegraphs things, but the overall tone is remarkable, as are individual sequences: the freaky forced marriage of Stan and Molly in accordance with carny morality, and a creepy night scene in a park when Stanton the Great raises a ghost for a high-society client. Cinematographer Lee Garmes's chiaroscuro creates a relief map of the carnival world and what passes for life there. As for the geek... well, you'll find out what geek means. Stan does. --Richard T. Jameson
NOIR COMES TO THE CARNIVAL.......Always nice to see something different in a genre. While typically Noirs have an urban setting here we get our dose of Noir with the carnival as... Read morePublished 27 days ago by g
The best-selling novel by William Lindsay Gresham was the genesis for the 1947 film Nightmare Alley and as one of Tyrone Power’s better roles it still packs a punch. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Spike
Tyrone Power's gripping performance takes you from the sawdust to the penthouse and back to what lives beneath the sawdust.Published 9 months ago by daniel r. esian
Amazing old movie but copy was terrible. Ruined the viewing experience. Couldn't watch it. Had to shut it off after only a short while.Published 10 months ago by Ken B.