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Alias Nick Beal (1949)

A district attorney rises to political success and the governorship but loses his sense of morality once he starts associating with the shadowy and perhaps diabolical Nick Beal.



(screenplay), (original story)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Frankie Faulkner
Geraldine Wall ...
Judge Hobson
Larry Price
Peter Wolfe
Charles Evans ...
Paul Norton
Mr. Cox - Tailor (as Erno Verebes)
Douglas Spencer ...
Henry T. Finch
Arlene Jenkins ...
Aileen - the Fosters' Maid
Pepito Pérez ...
Poster Man (as Pepito Perez)


Righteous district attorney Joseph Foster's main goal in life is to rid his city of the gangsters infesting it. In order to be even more efficient in his war against crime he plans to run for governor. One day he meets a strange, shadowy man, Nick Beal, who offers to help him to achieve his end. Beal convinces hesitating Foster by dint of easy money, easy sex with an alluring young woman and the promise of easy success. Joseph Foster soon becomes an influential politician but a corrupt one. A minister of God manages to show him that he has been the plaything of the so-called Nick Beal, who might be "Old Nick" , that is to say Satan himself. Foster then decides to resign and to become an honest man again. Written by Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The shock-filled story of a man whose love was more dangerous than a loaded gun! See more »


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Release Date:

4 March 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alias Nicky Beal  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film was shot in 26 days. See more »


approx 53:30... mic and boom shadow to left of door as "Donna" rushes Foster out the door of her apartment. See more »


Bum: Yes brethren, every word is true. I've walked in the darkness, glory be. I've wrestled the Devil and thrown him. I've pinned his shoulders to the mat. Yes, I've pinned his shoulders to the mat.
Nick Beal: I wonder if he knows it's two falls out of three?
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Said I To My Heart, Said I
Written by Earl Robinson & E.Y. Harburg
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User Reviews

ALIAS NICK BEAL (John Farrow, 1949) ****
23 October 2009 | by See all my reviews

I had long wanted to check out this modern Americanization of the "Faust" legend and, at the same time, wondered at its apparent neglect over the years. Having done so now, I am honestly baffled by this as the film is superb in every respect – keeping also in mind that there are at least three other classic cinematic versions of its prototype i.e. F.W. Murnau's Silent FAUST (1926; which retains the original setting and period), William Dieterle's THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER aka ALL THAT MONEY CAN BUY (1941; superbly rendered in terms of Americana http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033532/usercomments-20) and Rene' Clair's LA BEAUTE' DU DIABLE (1950; with the narrative, of course, re-set to France http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042235/usercomments-4). By the way, I purposely picked my birthday (17th August) to catch up with ALIAS NICK BEAL since I was to watch yet another variation on the theme – HAMMERSMITH IS OUT (1972), starring Richard Burton – anyway, as part of my ongoing tribute to that renowned thespian on the 25th anniversary of his passing! To begin with, the acting is impeccable: Ray Milland, at once charming and sinister in the title role who, not only has the penchant of never being seen entering or exiting a room but just suddenly be there Mrs. Danvers-style, but is also so evil that he threatens to blackmail the Faust character here soon after having opened the road to success for him!; Thomas Mitchell, reliable but at the same time a symbol of integrity, is actually the one to take the spotlight throughout; and Audrey Totter, the tramp with ambitions above her station who eventually reforms thanks to her proverbial heart of gold…but we also get George Macready and Fred Clark effectively cast against type as reverend and racketeer respectively! The eerie supernatural elements, then, are remarkably rendered without the use of special effects (complemented by noir-ish cinematography and an emphatic score). Among the most memorable moments we find Milland afraid of being touched and even more so of the Holy Scriptures (reprised in the film's splendid climax); the uncanny chat between Totter and Mitchell 'rehearsed' verbatim beforehand with Milland (incidentally, the blooming relationship between Mitchell and Totter is subtly mirrored in the scenes depicting Mitchell's growing estrangement from his wife); and Totter's drunken exchange with a bartender before she is picked up by Milland. The political element within the film is more of the idealistic Frank Capra variety (of which Mitchell himself was a stock performer) than the 'mature' level of the contemporaneous ALL THE KING'S MEN (1949) – although, watching this, I was immediately reminded of Raoul Walsh's James Cagney vehicle A LION IS IN THE STREETS (1953) which I only caught last month (in a retrospective of that star's work honoring the 110th anniversary of his birth). In conclusion, I would like to point out that director Farrow was an underrated film-maker from Hollywood's Golden Age and this is undoubtedly his most accomplished effort.

P.S. Watching the not dissimilar THE SOUL OF A MONSTER (1944) – also with Macready – as part of the Halloween challenge, I was inspired to finally complete my review of this film…

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