7.8/10
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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:

Nightmare Alley 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

Studio head Darryl F. Zanuck found this movie so generally distasteful that he eventually took it out of circulation; but it was theatrically re-released in 1956-1957, did good business, particularly in the drive-in circuit, and received wide distribution; after Power's premature death in 1958, widespread public demand for it on television resulted in its initial telecast in New York City Saturday 10 January 1959 on WRCA (Channel 4), followed by Salt Lake City Tuesday 27 January 1959 on KTVT (Channel 4), by Wichita Wednesday 28 January 1959 on KTVH (Channel 12), by San Francisco/Oakland Tuesday 3 March 1959 on KTVU (Channel 2), and soon spreading far and wide as a result of its extraordinarily high ratings. Its 2005 DVD release as part of the Twentieth Century Fox "noir" series brought "Nightmare Alley" back once again into even wider circulation. See more »

Goofs

During Powers's cab ride away from Walker's apartment, the Chicago Theater is visible in the rear-projection behind the car. After several more minutes of driving, the cab turns around in front of the same theater. See more »

Quotes

Stanton Carlisle: What kind of deck is this?
Zeena Krumbein: This is the tarot. Oldest kind of cards in the world. Pete says the gypsies brought them out of Egypt. They're a wonder for giving private readings.
Stanton Carlisle: I'd say. They look plenty weird.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hollywood Mouth 3 (2018) 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 suicidal film
26 November 2003 | by TheFerrymanSee all my reviews

One of the most obscure films produced by classic Hollywood. It's Tyrone Power in the role of his life and the tragedy of an ambitious circus apprentice becoming a con artist and gradually turning into a pseudo-religious guru. Both director Edmund Goulding (Grand Hotel, Dark Victory) and writer W.L. Gresham committed suicide, and one can smell suicide in this gem of a film, that is the story of the embezzlement of a gift. That circus operates as a good metaphor of the B-system Hollywood of the 40's, where geeks worked side by sided with geniuses. The tarot cards foresee the worst: there's a geek in every man's soul, no matter how big one can be, a downfall no imposed `happy ending' can hide. In this nightmare populated by fun-fairs, alcoholism and eccentric millionaires obsessed with the deceased, the film version makes use of the essential from the source novel and provides the best invention: an unscrupulous psychiatrist who records her patients on tape and then blackmails them, a device that Brian de Palma himself would have be proud of.


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