Nightmare Alley (1947)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama, Film Noir  |   Release Date - Oct 9, 1947 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 111 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Aiming to prove his acting ability and stretch his image, leading man Tyrone Power pushed to star as a tragically ambitious spiritualist/con man in Edmund Goulding's film noir melodrama Nightmare Alley (1947). In Jules Furthman's adaptation of a William Lindsay Gresham novel, Power's conniving Stan rises from carny barker to renowned "psychic" only to be done in by a woman and his own guilt. Though Stan's eventual fate may be clear from the moment that he first lays eyes on the sideshow's debased "geek," the bleak story is unusually (and fascinatingly) squalid for a Hollywood studio production, even given the obligatory final moment of redemption. Swathing Stan's spiritual corruption in a somber yet dream-like atmosphere, Lee Garmes's expressive cinematography reaches a surreal apex of light and shadow when Stan pretends to conjure the spirit of a dead woman in a wealthy client's garden amid the obliquely lit trees and bushes. Bolstered by an excellent supporting cast including Joan Blondell as a used and abandoned sideshow soothsayer and Helen Walker as a criminal who actually gets away with it, Power gave one of the best performances of his career, but Nightmare Alley failed at the box office.