Friday 7 January 2011

Nightmare Alley [1947]

Nightmare Alley might not be the most well-known film noir, but it sure remains among the seediest and most sordid depictions of life and human corruption. Stanton is an unctuous, street-smart, conniving drifter; he’s working in a carnival, but has huge dreams and a searing ambition to make it big, and enough resources (read: smarts) to take him places. After he mistakenly gets a veteran, alcoholic performer killed, he coaxes his wife to divulge a secret, underhand code that lets one to let his/her partner know what’s written in a note without the audience knowing it. However, instead of playing it straight, he leaves the carnival with his pretty wife, and starts performing in a gambling joint. He, however, has big plans, and together with a sultry psychiatrist, he plans to con wealthy folks with his gift for the gab. Things do not exactly turn out the way he’d expected, and a smart double-cross later, Stanton finds himself back in the gutters – down, beaten and drunk. Superbly made, this noir paints the sleazy side of life and a world that is as addicted by those living in it as those (like us) watching it, with pulpy feel, fatalistic tone, electrifying charm and bristling pace. Tyrone Power’s performance as Stanton, the cynical, duplicitous and scheming hustler, was absolutely terrific, and so were the performances of his co-stars.

Director: Edmund Goulding
Genre: Film Noir/Crime Drama
Language: English
Country: US

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