Nightmare Alley (1947)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  

USA, 1947.  Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.  Screenplay by Jules Furthman, based on the novel by William Lindsay Gresham.  Cinematography by Lee Garmes.  Produced by George Jessel.  Music by  Cyril J. Mockridge.  Production Design by J. Russell Spencer, Lyle R. Wheeler.  Costume Design by Bonnie Cashin.  Film Editing by  Barbara McLean.  

plays the member of a carnival troop who longs to make himself the star attraction, scheming his way into ‘s arms and convincing her to teach him all the tricks to being a master mentalist (the guy who puts on a blindfold and guesses, through a series of carefully coded words, who his assistant is talking to or what objects they are holding).  His ambition goes beyond the traveling players and sees him screwing Blondell over, running away with and marrying gorgeous  and becoming a classy nightclub attraction.  When his greed for power sees him trying to become his own kind of evangelist, we see Icarus fly a bit too close to the sun and this gorgeously shot, noirish drama moves to a powerful and unforgettable conclusion.  Power is terrific as the man who is both bewitching and repulsive, his ruthlessness as a trickster matched by the fact that he does seem to have some kind of extrasensory powers to match his handsome bearing and charisma.  Edmund Goulding’s direction is up there with his very best.

The Criterion Collection:  #1078

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