This dark and determinedly sleazy 1947 film comes as quite a surprise from its director—Edmund Goulding, whose specialty through the 30s, in films like Grand Hotel
and The Old Maid
, was his inveterate tastefulness (although, come to think of it, the sleaze of Nightmare Alley
has a suspicious gloss). Tyrone Power stars as a sideshow barker who successfully promotes himself as a mind reader, only to have his ruthlessness catch up with him in a finale that still seems shockingly draconian, particularly where a matinee idol like Power is concerned. A fascinating anomaly. With Colleen Gray and Joan Blondell; the screenplay, adapted from William Lindsay Gresham's novel, is by Howard Hawks's frequent collaborator Jules Furthman.
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Attention filmmakers: how about a Nightmare Alley unrestrained by quaint Hollywood moral codes?
Presented by the Music Box and the Film Noir Foundation, this week-long festival features 35-millimeter prints of film noir classics and rarities.