7.8/10
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Nightmare Alley (1947)

Not Rated | | 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.

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(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Ezra Grindle
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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:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

28 October 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Scharlatan  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

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

Hoatley - First Carnival Owner: Now this creature - There he is, THE GEEK! He has puzzled the foremost scientists of Europe and America. Is he the missing link? Is he man or beast? Some have pronounced him man. But beneath that shaggy mane of hair lies the brain of a beast.
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Connections

Referenced in Sanford and Son: Brother, Can You Spare an Act? (1975) See more »

Soundtracks

The Boston Burglar
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung by George Beranger
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User Reviews

 
Unforgettably creepy noir with Power, Blondell, Walker
6 October 2000 | by See all my reviews

As other commentators have noted, once you've seen this film it haunts you. The creepy carnival milieu has rarely been better done (well, Tod Browning's "Freaks" of course) but seems more wholesome than the upscale world of nightclub mentalists and corrupt psychiatrists to which Tyrone Power ascends. Joan Blondell is carnally blowzy but she's almost upstaged by the ill-starred actress Helen Walker (the duplicitous wife in Impact) as that double-crossing shrink. No one soon forgets Power's slippery climb to the top followed by his horrifying fall. This film is a true, dark classic.


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