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:

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

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 »

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

McGraw - Final Carnival Owner: Wait. I just happened to think of something. I might have a job you can take a crack at. Course it isn't much and I'm not begging you to take it, but it's a job.
Stanton Carlisle: That's all I want.
McGraw - Final Carnival Owner: And we'll keep you in coffee and cake. Bottle every day, place to sleep it off in. What do you say? Anyway, it's only temporary, just until we can get a real geek.
Stanton Carlisle: Geek?
McGraw - Final Carnival Owner: You know what a geek is, don't you?
Stanton Carlisle: Yeah. Sure, I... I know what a geek is.
McGraw - Final Carnival Owner: Do you think you can handle it?
Stanton Carlisle: Mister, I was made for it.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Heat (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Film Holds Up Well
20 June 2000 | by harry-76See all my reviews

Tryone Power gave one of his finest performances in "Nightmare Alley." His off-beat role highlighted a strange and intriguing tale, and was a role which he reportedly fought hard to get, upon his return to film work following military duty.

Power proved he was capable of much more demanding parts than those normally given him. On screen most of the time, he displayed a flair for sound characterization and nuance, being endowed with an unusually fine speaking voice and diction.

Lee Garmes' cinematography and Thomas Little's set decoration are notable here, and the entire cast works in fine ensemble fashion. Only some plot details may seem a little obvious and predictable. That's probably because "Nightmare Alley" details have been copied numerous times by other film makers and, as a result, we're much more savvy now than 1947 audiences.

It was a particular treat to have an opportunity to see this film last week on a film society series in a beautiful 35mm print. The showing also reminded viewers how beautiful and effective black and white productions are, and how much they're missed.


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