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
According to Eddie Muller of the Film Noir Foundation, charlatans and grifters in the new age/mystic con would use the phrase "Are you a friend of Stan Carlisle?" or a variation on it to confirm that the person they were talking to was in the same line of business. 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 »
Nightmare Alley is a remarkable film- it hardly blinks in showing a cynical, scheming "preacher" doing his thing.Given the norms of Hollywood at the time, or almost at any time,it does give you a lot to consider.Tyrone Power is brilliant, and the movie is actually quite close to the powerful (hard to find!) novel.In the best tradition of a movie that examines the dark side of society in an effectively muckraking way, it is a rare gem. I found the movie all the more effective for the fact that while Tyrone Power is in a quite uncharacteristic role. It is obvious he is strongly committed to the film and delivers a chilling, scary, thought provoking performance. The glimpses of the brutality of contemporary circus/side show life are in themselves interesting and disquieting. It is a rare film and even rarer book, but really worth the time.
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