Nightmare Alley (1947)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Film-Noir  |  28 October 1947 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 4,909 users  
Reviews: 92 user | 62 critic

The rise and fall of Stanton Carlisle, a mentalist who's lies and deceit prove to be his downfall.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Complete credited cast:
Zeena Krumbein
Lilith Ritter
Taylor Holmes ...
Ezra Grindle
Ian Keith ...
Pete Krumbein


The ambitious Stanton "Stan" Carlisle works in a sideshow as carny and assistant of the mentalist Zeena Krumbein, who is married with the alcoholic Pete. The couple had developed a secret code to pretend to read minds and was successful in the show business before Pete starts drinking. Stan stays with them expecting to learn their code and leave the carnival to be a successful mentalist. Stan also flirts with the gorgeous Molly that lives in the carnival with the strong Bruno. Zeena and The Savage, an alcoholic man that eats live chickens that the audiences believe that is a savage, are the greatest attractions of the sideshow. When Stan gives booze to Pete and he dies, Stan finds that Pete had drunk methyl alcohol and not his booze, but he feels guilty for the death of him. Zeena teaches the code to him and Molly helps Stan to learn them. After an incident, Stan is forced to marry Molly and he decides to move to Chicago with her to become a sensation in a night club. One day, he ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He was all things to all men ... but only one thing to all women!


Drama | Film-Noir


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

28 October 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Scharlatan  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


According to Eddie Muller of the Film Noir Foundation, charlatans and grifters in the new age/mystic con would use the phrase "Are you a friend of Stan Carlisle?" or a variation on it to confirm that the person they were talking to was in the same line of business. See more »


During Powers's cab ride away from Walker's apartment, the Chicago Theater is visible in the rear-projection behind the car. After several more minutes of driving, the cab turns around in front of the same theater. See more »


Carny #1: How can a guy sink so low?
Carny #2: He reached too high...
See more »


Featured in The Heat (2013) See more »


Sobre las olas (Over the Waves)
Music by Juventino Rosas
Played during the opening carnival scene
See more »

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User Reviews

A suicidal film
26 November 2003 | by See all my reviews

One of the most obscure films produced by classic Hollywood. It's Tyrone Power in the role of his life and the tragedy of an ambitious circus apprentice becoming a con artist and gradually turning into a pseudo-religious guru. Both director Edmund Goulding (Grand Hotel, Dark Victory) and writer W.L. Gresham committed suicide, and one can smell suicide in this gem of a film, that is the story of the embezzlement of a gift. That circus operates as a good metaphor of the B-system Hollywood of the 40's, where geeks worked side by sided with geniuses. The tarot cards foresee the worst: there's a geek in every man's soul, no matter how big one can be, a downfall no imposed `happy ending' can hide. In this nightmare populated by fun-fairs, alcoholism and eccentric millionaires obsessed with the deceased, the film version makes use of the essential from the source novel and provides the best invention: an unscrupulous psychiatrist who records her patients on tape and then blackmails them, a device that Brian de Palma himself would have be proud of.

66 of 73 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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