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Nightmare Alley (1947)

Passed | | 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:

Edmund Goulding

Writers:

Jules Furthman (screenplay), William Lindsay Gresham (novel)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Tyrone Power ... Stanton 'Stan' Carlisle
Joan Blondell ... Zeena Krumbein
Coleen Gray ... Molly
Helen Walker ... Lilith Ritter
Taylor Holmes ... Ezra Grindle
Mike Mazurki ... Bruno
Ian Keith ... 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:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 October 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Scharlatan See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tyrone Power's second film after serving as a pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps during WWII. 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

Molly: You ought to have heard Stan spout the gospel to that old hypocrite. It was like being in Sunday school.
Zeena Krumbein: You must have been raised pretty religious.
Stanton Carlisle: Yeah, in a county orphanage.
Molly: Didn't you have any folks?
Stanton Carlisle: If I did, they weren't much interested.
Zeena Krumbein: Where'd you learn all this gospel?
Stanton Carlisle: In the orphanage. That's what they used to give us on Sunday after beating us black-and-blue all week. Then when I ran away, they threw me in the reform school. But that's where I got wise to myself. I let the chaplain ...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Post Mortem with Mick Garris: Tobe Hooper (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

The Boston Burglar
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung by George Beranger
See more »

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User Reviews

 
obscure but memorable
31 July 2004 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

It is totally amazing, nearly 60 years later, to realize the lengths that 20th Century Fox went to in order to keep Tyrone Power a handsome leading man rather than letting him show his stuff. It's no wonder Fox came to disgrace during the Cleopatra era. Pity it didn't happen earlier so Power had more opportunities to show his acting range.

Nightmare Alley was a favorite of mine from the time I was a teenager -a film Power fought to make and one that the studio never publicized and released as a B film. Spiteful bunch, considering the money he had made for them! Power, Blondell, Gray, Helen Walker, and the marvelous Ian Keith turn in great performances in a gritty film somewhat ahead of its time for its unrelenting toughness, its hard view of alcoholism, a look inside the world of mentalists and carnival life, and its theme of the supernatural. It is reminiscent of "Ace in the Hole" and some of the later, cynical Wilder films.

Power was one of those actors whose drop dead gorgeous appearance kept him from some excellent roles, thanks to his studio. He sometimes could appear rigid (though not in this film) but someone I knew saw him in a Broadway play and said it was like being alone in a room with him, he had such magnetism. We have so few examples of his really great work - the recording of John Brown's Body is one, this film is another - it's great that it's now out on DVD and available to the public.


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