Helen Walker

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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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Call Northside 777 Review


Good
Not a movie about an air crisis, a police station, or a military action (as the title would seem to indicate), Call Northside 777 is actually one of the most mundane legal thriller/newspaperman activist stories the world has ever seen. The title, as is fitting, refers to a phone number in the movie.

James Stewart seriously runs away with this movie. As skeptical reporter P.J. McNeal, he's tasked with writing a story about a convicted cop killer, 11 years after he's been put away for life. As he investigates, he slowly encounters piece after piece of evidence which exonerates the man -- yet the corrupt Chicago legal and police system won't hear any of it. Based on a true case in 1932, Call Northside 777 was also the first film shot on location in Chi-town.

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