With the impending release of Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of this story (super excited for that), I thought it could be fun to watch the first film bearing the title. So without further ado… let’s go.
Ladies, gents, and non-binaries, I’d recommend not walking down… “Nightmare Alley”.
The story follows Stanton “Stan” Carlisle (Tyrone Power), a con man currently working with a traveling carnival. And we follow him as he lies and deceives everyone around him for his own personal gain, and what consequences that brings to his life. It’s an interesting narrative, filled with twists, turns, and good ol’ noir suspense. It’s a fascinating look at a very shady and fascinating man, giving us a fairly nuanced and clever little noir narrative. Its pacing can be a little bit weird at times, sometimes jumping a little too quickly and sometimes dragging its feet. It doesn’t completely break the story, as I’d say it mostly paces itself quite well. And the overall narrative is quite engaging, so it does mostly even itself out.
The characters in this are colorful, flawed, layered, and overall just highly interesting. At the enter of our story is Stan Carlisle, a con man and supposed mentalist, always working and scheming to further his own interests. He’s quite a solidly written and engaging lead character, with Tyrone Power giving a great performance in the role. We also get supporting work from Joan Blondell, Coleen Gray, Helen Walker, Mike Mazurki, Taylor Holmes, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.
The score for the movie was composed by Cyril J. Mockridge, and I can’t remember any of it. Nothing sticks out as bad about it, nothing sticks out as good about it… it just doesn’t stick out in any way at all. It’s probably perfectly passable, but man, I wish I had more to say.
Based on the novel of the same name by William Lindsay Gresham, “Nightmare Alley” was directed by Edmund Goulding, who I think did a damn good job. Do you like seedy, dimly lit sets with very atmospheric shadows draping over the characters? Well, that’s what you get here, and it’s handled to perfection in that regard. It takes the classic noir stylizations and does them beautifully. It’s a solidly crafted film.
This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10.
While its pacing can let it down a little, “Nightmare Alley” is still a damn good noir film. It has a really good story, really good characters, great performances, and great direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Nightmare Alley” is an 8.45/10. So while flawed, I’d still say it’s definitely worth buying.
My review of “Nightmare Alley” is now completed
Is it just me, or is “Tyrone Power” one of the coolest names ever?
One thought on “Movie Review: Nightmare Alley (1947)”
It must be 50 years since I watched this, but it’s a great film, with a great cast.
Best wishes, Pete.