Nightmare Alley (1947)

Article #1171 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-29-2004
Posting Date: 10-26-2004
Directed by Edmund Goulding
Featuring Tyrone Power, Coleen Gray, Joan Blondell

A carny decides he can crack the big time with a mind-reading racket when he learns a code from a down-on-her-luck mindreader.

This sad, powerful and somewhat disturbing film noir isn’t strictly horror, but the atmosphere is thick at times, and the tarot cards do show an uncanny ability to predict the future. Furthermore, the carnival background is like something out of a Tod Browning movie, and the mind-reading and spiritualist aspects should also be familiar territory to horror fans. The story is first-rate, the direction and cinematography are wonderful, and the acting throughout is top-notch. Tyrone Powers gives a strong performance as Stanton Carlisle, a man whose ability to put on an act is so great that he fails to realize that someone else might actually have a better act, but the best performances come from Joan Blondell as the down-and-out mind reader and Ian Keith, whose portrayal of the alcoholic Pete serves as an example of the type of man whom Stanton could become. Still, there’s an even more alarming example of Stanton’s potential fate, but I’ll leave that for the viewer to discover. My highest recommendations go out with this one.


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