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Nightmare Alley (1947)

Not Rated | | Drama, Film-Noir | 28 October 1947 (USA)
The rise and fall of Stanton Carlisle, a mentalist whose lies and deceit prove to be his downfall.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Zeena Krumbein
...
Molly
...
Lilith Ritter
...
Ezra Grindle
...
Bruno
...
Pete Krumbein
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

28 October 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Scharlatan  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Studio head Darryl F. Zanuck found this movie so generally distasteful that he took it out of circulation; subsequent showings (either publicly or on television) were very rare. Its 2005 DVD release as part of the Twentieth Century Fox "noir" series brought "Nightmare Alley" back into wider circulation. See more »

Goofs

The recording machine that creates a major plot point is a Wilcox-Gay disc cutter that could record at 78 or 33 rpm on a maximum disk size of ten inches. It cut at a fixed 96 lines per inch. Unfortunatly those specs limited recording time to about 3 minutes at 78 rpm and only a bit more at 33. A real professional would have used something like a Presto which cut 12 inch discs or a broadcasting machine like a Scully that could cut 16 inch disks. Even the FBI used disk cutters in pairs so one could begin recording when the others had used up all its blank disk surface. A much more likely device would have been a wire recorder which despite its limited fidelity could record speech for an hour. These units were not cheap but Dr. Ritter was obviously wealthy. Her Wilcox-Gay recorder had a retail price at that time of about $100.00 and was among the lowest priced recorders sold. See more »

Quotes

Stanton Carlisle: You've got a heart as big...
Zeena Krumbein: Sure, as big as an artichoke, a leaf for everyone.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in I'm Not There. (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Sobre las olas (Over the Waves)
(uncredited)
Music by Juventino Rosas
Played during the opening carnival scene
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.


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