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Nightmare Alley (1947)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Film-Noir  |  28 October 1947 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 4,866 users  
Reviews: 92 user | 61 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 »


When Tyrone Power is talking to the policeman, he says, "My Scotch blood. . ." No Scot would say that. He'd say, "My Scottish blood." Scotch is a liquor, not a nationality. See more »


Zeena Krumbein: I'm about as reliable as a two dollar cornet.
See more »


Referenced in Sanford and Son: Brother, Can You Spare an Act? (1975) See more »


The Boston Burglar
Sung by George Beranger
See more »

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User Reviews

A film that will truly haunt your memory...
6 July 2004 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

I first saw this film in the late 70's on a Toronto television program devoted to classic cinema. I was joined by friends who always got together on Saturday nights to watch the musicals, comedies, or classic performances offered that week. NIGHTMARE ALLEY came as a surprise. It was a raw, exposed nerve of a film. Instead of the Hollywood diction we had come to expect, this film expressed itself in 1940's carny colloquialisms. And nobody in the cast was soft - they were all hard knocks characters, almost down for the count, but still fighting. After about 15 minutes, nobody in front of that set moved until it was all over, except maybe to look sideways to see if anyone else could believe their eyes. This is a movie clawing your way to the top , and then paying the price for getting there. This is a movie about being careful what you wish for. It is a movie about odd fascinations with people who are actually messengers of your future in disguise. And ultimately, it is a movie about how futile is the love of a good woman if the man is destined for ruin. Needless to say, it was not standard Hollywood fare when made in the 40's, and it is still not standard fare today. It's message is somehow both shocking and familiar. Listen for the last words uttered, as though in offhand comment about our 'hero' by bystanders. Those words haunted me for over 20 years, until I was able to track down another showing of the film on TV (STILL not on VCR or DVD for heaven's sake!). And I remembered them correctly all that time

  • that's the impact they made. See this film. Surrender to it. It's

that good.

63 of 67 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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