Because aging boxer Bill Thompson always lost his past fights, his corrupt manager, without telling Thompson, takes bribes from a betting gangster, to ensure Thompson's pre-arranged dive-loss in the next match.
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
The movie, as released, is cut. There were gruesome scenes of the geek, bloodied, and insanely ripping apart the chickens. One could only hope that these scenes would be restored, since the editing destroyed the continuity. See more »
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 »
In Nightmare Alley, Tyrone Power is like the George Clooney of the 1940s, yet in a role with a pathetic side that Clooney has never dared to play. His cool, his eyes, his placid stance and walk, and his immovable self-confidence. Power is however more intense in this role than Clooney has ever been in any of his roles. Colleen Grey, the female lead, is one of the sexiest knockouts I've ever seen. I am sold when she first appears in her circus uniform, the glittery skivvies revealing that she is not skinny, but given to thick curves, especially in her smolderingly pliable and smooth hips. She plays a good-girl role, the role she always hated to play, wishing she had roles like Helen Walker's, who plays a wicked psychologist, and quite well.
The story is an interesting weaving of a con game, a horrific tale of descent, and a rags-to-riches story of luck. It's intriguing. Nightmare Alley is true film noir, whether it has gangs and guns or not, because we follow a main character who is suave and personable to without a conscience and almost a little ashamed of it. There are clever crimes, wicked antagonists, and dark, cutting cinematography. It's a must for noir fans.
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