Written by Jules Furthman
Directed by Edmund Goulding
A carny cons his way up to high society through cold-reading and (un)timely circumstance. Based on that one-liner, who would you cast? If you say Tyrone Power, I’d say that my friend Stan Carlisle is on his way (The name Stan Carlisle being a con-industry handshake of sorts, informing one con-artist that he’s stepping in on another man’s con, or at least according to Eddie “The Czar of Noir” Muller’s introduction of this film at Tcmff). In Nightmare Alley, Tyrone Power, the 20th Century Fox matinee idol, plays a lowlife con man, who lies and cheats his way from a podunk carnival to becoming a spiritualist amongst the more gullible of Chicago’s upper crust. His character is also the namesake of the above con slang.
And any which way, yes, Tyrone Power
It’s all a scam, isn’t it?
My alarm goes off in the morning and I eat some cereal some marketer scammed me into thinking tastes good and is good for me. I wash myself with products I’ve been scammed into thinking will make me more pleasant company. I buy cigarettes I’ve scammed myself into thinking won’t really shorten my life from a convenience store clerk who scams me into thinking I’m paying a fair price. I go to my day-job and scam my boss into thinking I’m working hard just as he scams me into thinking my paycheck is as much as I deserve. Then I come home and attempt to scam you fine people into thinking I know what I’m talking about when it comes to crime fiction.
But of course, you’re too smart for that.
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