Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


NIGHTMARE ALLEY (1947). Director: Edmund Goulding

Tyrone Power gives one of his best performances as Stanton Carlisle, a young man who works for a carnival and inadvertently contributes to the death of an alcoholic co-worker, Pete (Ian Keith). Stan winds up performing a mind-reading act with his wife Molly (Coleen Gray), giving him gullible high society contacts and getting him into business with shady psychiatrist Lilith Ritter (Helen Walker, pictured with Power). This is an absolutely fascinating movie with interesting twists and turns and a powerful, if not entirely unexpected, wind-up (which is somewhat reminiscent of The Crowd). The supporting cast is splendid, with Joan Blondell excellent as Zeena, Pete's partner, and Helen Walker offers a diabolical portrait as the utterly amoral Lilith. There's a terrific scene when Power uses his skill to both charm and undermine an angry Marshall (a splendid James Burke) who's out to shut the carnival down. Well-directed by Edmund Goulding.

Verdict: A crackling good yarn. ***1/2.

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