Nightmare Alley

1947, Crime/Drama, 1h 51m

60 Reviews 1,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

Playing against type with Nightmare Alley, Tyrone Power and Edmund Goulding deliver some of their best work in a carnival-set noir unafraid to showcase true despair. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Roustabout Stanton Carlisle (Tyrone Power) joins a traveling carny and unsuccessfully schemes to figure out the mind-reading act of Mademoiselle Zeena (Joan Blondell) and her alcoholic husband, Pete (Ian Keith). But when Pete dies, Zeena is forced to take on Stanton as a partner, and he quickly proves more gifted than his predecessor. Ambitious to a fault, Carlisle abandons Zeena and the carny to reinvent himself as "The Great Stanton," wowing high-class audiences in a Chicago hotel.

Cast & Crew

Tyrone Power
Stanton Carlisle
Joan Blondell
Zeena Krumbein
Ian Keith
Pete Krumbein

Critic Reviews for Nightmare Alley

Audience Reviews for Nightmare Alley

  • Nov 02, 2021
    A great use of the Noir style and Power should have played more villains.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 19, 2021
    In what I consider to be Tyrone Power's best role, he plays an luckless orphan who's grown to see enough of life from the bottom and has decided to claw his way up no matter who gets used in the process. It's women that he typically opportunistically eviscerates until, in true noir fashion, he meets his coldhearted mirror match one day. It's an interesting work overall, with odd rhythms and awkward dialogues to get to the heart of a soul possibly without heart or at least one whom has had the heart beaten out of from perhaps the very beginning, and a better overview and commentary of the American everyman than I've ever seen. All of this...from what is essentially trash. Remarkable.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Jul 12, 2015
    The seedy underworld of the travelling carnival is the setting for this cautionary tale. This is an excellent example of the film noir genre; Film noir explored the darker side of society, in addition to looking darker on film. No one could be more of an outcast than a carnival geek, although this film was not as lurid with reference to the geek as I expected. It is really more of a morality tale, a cautionary expose. The key is the line that's repeated at the beginning of the film and the end: "How did he get so low?, he reached too high." Tyrone Power excels as Stanton, an opportunistic sociopath chewing through victims, taking advantage of everyone he meets, and Colleen Gray is "electric as well." What a beauty, and clad pretty thinly for the time!
    Clintus M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 26, 2012
    A touching, dramatic, exciting, romantic, interesting film. I loved Power as the young man who aims too high, goes too far, pushes too much to get what he thinks he deserves. It's pretty long, but very worth seeing.
    Aj V Super Reviewer

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