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William A. Wellman
Chandler, a con-man, and his helper Frank decide to create a clairvoyant act for the carny circuit, as a little research reveals Ameicans spent $125 million on mind-readers and astrology. The carny, renamed Chandra, falls for one of his marks, Sylvia, but their love is tested when he brings tragedy to other peoples' lives and she asks him to go straight. Written by
Jon C. Hopwood
Stephen Sondheim picked this movie as the initial film on his special night as the Turner Classic Movies programmer, March 22, 2005. The cable network TCM was honoring him on his 75th birthday. See more »
F.R. Franklin aka Frank:
[to Chandra Chandler as he's being led away to prison to serve a 2-10 year sentence]
It sure is tough to be going away just when beer is coming back.
See more »
Let's Put Out the Lights (and Go to Sleep)
Music by Herman Hupfeld
Played when Mrs. Holman and the detectives burst into the apartment See more »
Warren William turns in a superb performance. Allen Jenkins, always fun if a bit tedious in later comic gangster tales, does fine. The fine black actor Clarence Muse is given a meaty role and does beautifully by it. And Constance Cummings, whom I saw several decades after this in a magnificent performance on Broadway, is excellent.
This is a dark, twisting tale. William is a grifter who's tried a few rackets before he hits on mind reading. He and Jenkins pull some shady business in Cummings's hometown (emphasis on town) but she falls for him. She thinks he's the real thing, for a while, and he tries hard to go straight for her.
There is no wrong move. It's taut and disturbing. Roy del Ruth was a sensationally good director at this time, though this is darker than what he generally worked with.
No happy Hollywood ending is slapped on. William is seen about to pay for his evil ways but it sure doesn't look as if he is going to get a last-minute reprieve, nor does he seem particularly changed in his soul.
Keep an eye out for this one!
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