NIGHTMARE ALLEY

(1947)
With Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell, Coleen Gray, Helen Walker, Taylor Homes, Ian Keith
Directed by Edmund Goulding
Black and White
Reviewed by JL

    Unavailable and unseen for decades, NIGHTMARE ALLEY earned a word-of-mouth reputation as a masterpiece of film noir.  Now that the film is widely available on DVD, we can see that its reputation was more than justified.  Tyrone Power, taking advantage of one of his few opportunities with a meaty role, plays Stanton Carlisle, a circus performer with a mentalist act that eventually lands him high-paying gigs in swanky nightclubs.  Overcome by greed and a false sense of power, Carlisle begins to blur the distinction between fooling an audience that pays to be fooled for entertainment's sake, and conning rich folks who believe his "psychic abilities" will help them contact dear departed ones in the spirit world.  If Carlisle's fate seems a bit draconian, it is nevertheless fittingly ironic and subtly foreshadowed.  5 - JL

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