Nightmare Alley

Dir. Edmund Goulding. 1947, 110 mins. 35mm. With Tyrone Power, Coleen Gray. Capturing the sleazy allure of the carny through Lee Garmes’s atmospheric cinematography, Nightmare Alley follows a crooked psychic who rises from fairground swindles to classy nightclub acts and an unholy alliance with a manipulative psychoanalyst. With the precision and ruthlessness of a scalpel, Jules Furthman’s script dissects the mind-reading scam, in which trust and feigned empathy are just a means for bilking money out of suckers. Tyrone Power plumbs the depths of corruption and degradation as an homme fatale at once arrogant and perversely drawn to the lowest depths. The true noir landscape, this film reveals, is the human mind.

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