Nightmare Alley (1947) 1080p

Movie Poster
Nightmare Alley (1947) 1080p - Movie Poster
Drama | Film-Noir
Frame Rate:
23.976 fps
English 2.0  
Run Time:
110 min
IMDB Rating:
7.8 / 10 
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Directors: Edmund Goulding [Director] ,

Movie Description:
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 ...


  • Nightmare Alley (1947) 1080p - Movie Scene 1
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  • Nightmare Alley (1947) 1080p - Movie Scene 1

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A chilling performance by Tyrone Power

Nightmare Alley is an unconventional film noir in that it is set mostly among the travelling carnival. As such, it sometimes feels closer to Freaks than it does to Double Indemnity. However, that is one of Nightmare Alley's many charms, and it certainly contains enough elements of film noir to fall into that category, including perhaps one of the coldest femme fatales in noir history.

The incredibly charming Tyrone Power starts off as a simple carnival barker before hitting it big as a mentalist in a fancy club and then as something of an evangelist in the headlines. The last point was perhaps the most interesting section of the movie for me, as it reminded me of another film I love on the subject of evangelism, Elmer Gantry. However, Nightmare Alley is much less forgiving on the subject; whereas the character of Elmer Gantry is somewhat sympathetic and his level of deception and lack of faith is more ambiguous, Tyrone Power's character, Stanton Carlisle, on the other hand, is downright chilling in his level of deceit, manipulation and irreverence. Coleen Gray's character, Molly, gives a powerful and memorable speech on the subject.

Another highlight of the movie is Helen Walker, who's character, Lilith Ritter, is perhaps one of the coldest and most calculating femme fatales in film noir history. Power and Walker's chemistry is a sight to behold, and I was immediately compelled to re-watch their first meeting together because of how spellbinding a scene that is.

The only fault I could give this movie is regarding the final act. Stanton Carlisle's breakdown and subsequent downfall is a little too forced and choreographed. I can't help but feel like Carlisle was too smart and cunning to have been so easily deceived, and that he wasn't the type to let himself be trapped by fate. I love the ending, but the lead-up to it could have been better.

That said, Nightmare Alley is still an essential rise-and-fall story and an exceptionally satisfying film. I, for one, will never forget Stanton Carlisle's cold, chilling stare.

Visually awesome, just outstanding, and a first rate carninval melodrama, terrific!!

Nightmare Alley (1947)

Well, the reviews at its release were appreciative but mediocre, and the reviews on the DVD release were equally tepid and mixed. But for me, this is a perfect movie. To say it isn't your thing, that you want a socially pertinent drama ("On the Waterfront") or an inventive one ("Sunset Blvd.") or a really amazing noir ("Mildred Pierce" or "Double Indemnity"), all roughly from this era, is to miss the point.

This is a carny (carnival) film, and a story of the rise and fall of a charlatan. It has some noir elements including mostly night filming and a women (two) who are up to no good. And it has a hero with crossed stars, Tyrone Power, once a hunk and idol but now, for 20th Century Fox, reaching the end of his reign. He is, however, perfect here, because he begins as a charming, attractive carny worker and ends in ruins. Convincingly.

The plot is not simple, either. There is at first a sense of getting ahead by using a carnival trick of reading minds. Then there is a weirdly smart echo in modern psychiatry (with the psychiatrist played rather chillingly by Helen Walker). And so it ends up morphing into a kind of post-war scam and crime film (but without the noir staple of the detective in pursuit). Then threaded into this is an early love of sorts, played by another true star, Joan Blondell. Finally is the symbol of purity and goodness, played without cloyingness, played by a young and pristine Colleen Gray. Our main man Power has to navigate all these waters, among women with guiles and looks and money, alongside other temptations like fame and power.

There is a theme thrown in (and probably central to some viewers) about taking on too much power, of miming the powers of god, which is morally wrong, but this struck me as a small part of the whole effort. Larger were the romances, the trickery, and the filming itself.

Yes, in a way this is such a masterpiece of set design (the entire circus including a hundred real carnival performers was created on the studio lot), lighting, and photography. Indeed, the photography is textbook perfect, dazzling, subtle, beautiful, and self-sufficient. You could just watch, frame by frame, scene by scene, every single moment. I tried, I did, I never stopped gaping. The cameraman is no surprise, Lee Garmes, who had already won an Oscar in 1933 (for "Shanghai Express") and who helped Haller with "Gone with the Wind." If you see either "Caught" or "Detective Story" from this same period, you'll see him (paired with master directors) at his best.

The director here is a stalwart if unheralded Edmund Goulding, with several stunning movies under his belt including the breathtaking "The Razor's Edge." It's hard to overstate how fine "Nightmare Alley" really is. If a straight up drama isn't your thing, or if the visuals of a movie mean nothing to you, you'll perhaps find it simply very good. But some people, I am positive, will be as wowed as I was and am. Terrific.

Ty's Most Interesting Role And Zanuck's worst nightmare

Nightmare Alley is forever known in Hollywood as the film in which Tyrone Power made a total break with his typecast image, playing a completely evil and ultimately weak individual. Post World War II, Power made it clear to Darryl Zanuck that he was looking to expand his range as an actor. Zanuck reluctantly allowed him to do this film. He usually indulged his favorite at the studio. Of course he also had a backup plan just in case Nightmare Alley was a bust.

Well critically it wasn't a bust, Power got deservedly rave reviews for his portrayal of small time hustler and carnival sharpie Stan Carlisle. Power had a variation on his previous roles, he was either a straight out hero as in The Mark Of Zorro, Lloyds Of London, or The Razor's Edge. More often he was a combination hero/heel as in Blood And Sand, The Black Swan or A Yank In The RAF most of all in Rose Of Washington Square, probably the closest part to Stan Carlisle he had played before. Still he was never as unredeemingly evil as in Nightmare Alley on screen until his last completed film, Witness For The Prosecution.

Power is working in a small time carnival where Joan Blondell and Ian Keith have a mind reading act with a good code between them that allows Keith to pull some really strange and good answers out of left field. Power would like to learn it and does after Keith dies when he gets into some wood alcohol. Power then teams with Blondell.

He's forced to marry innocent young Coleen Gray when circus strongman Mike Mazurki thinks he's ruined her reputation. But even with the inconvenience of a wife, Power has his eyes on bigger game. He gets a mind reading act going at a swank Chicago nightclub and then partners with Helen Walker who is a quack psychologist.

Ty Power was great in the role, no question about that, but 1947 must have been a great year for scheming women. Helen Walker never gets the credit she's due for her part. She's every bit as bad as Power and more than up to whatever games he's playing. Her part is very similar to Jane Greer's in Out Of The Past which also came out in 1947.

The critics loved Power in Nightmare Alley, but 20th Century Fox took a big loss from it because the public wouldn't accept Power in so evil a role. Darryl Zanuck absolutely knew this would happen so he hedged his bets a little by withholding from release Captain From Castile, a big budget spectacular where you'll Tyrone Power at his most noble and heroic on screen without a bit of heel shading. That came out within six weeks of Nightmare Alley and Power's fans were appeased.

Power's character was a man essentially out of his depth in going for the big con. But as an actor in Nightmare Alley he expanded his range beyond anything anyone ever expected from him. Now Nightmare Alley is considered a cinema classic and box office bust that it was, it remained a personal favorite among Tyrone Power's films.

Though Darryl Zanuck preferred to forget the experience.
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