George Jessel

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Nightmare Alley Review


Excellent
As noir goes, Nightmare Alley is long and meandering -- and just about as dark as it gets.

A pet project of Tyrone Power, this film gives us Power in probably his greatest role ever. He starts off as a standard-grade con man, then works his way into the carnival as an aide to the mentalist (Joan Blondell in a solid mid-career role). Power's Stanton woos the "electric girl" (the hauntingly beautiful Coleen Gray), and together they eventually launch a mentalist act of their own, playing in black-tie nightclubs and landing radio spots and more. But when a psychiatrist (Helen Walker, the "bad dame" of the film) tempts him into scamming wealthy tycoons with visions of loved ones from the beyond, Stanton winds up in deep shit. His eventual return to the carnival is one of cinema's most poetic, ironic, and heart-rending moments.

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