Nightmare Alley


A cult post-war noir with a heart of darkness

No wonder studio bosses chickened out of promoting Edmund Goulding’s adaptation of hard drinker William Lindsay Gresham’s novel: a cult post-war noir with a heart of darkness, it nukes Hollywood values from within.

Eager to soil his star image, Tyrone Power exposes the fakery behind fame as a carnival conman turned celebrity psychic who’s destroyed by booze and betrayal. Jules Furthman’s noose-tight script and DoP Lee Garmes’ choke-hold shadows are among the principal pleasures.

But it’s Helen Walker’s manipulative shrink who steals the show: the scene where she reveals her hand sizzles with bracing suspense and cynicism.

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