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I hadn't seen this before last night. I really enjoyed it, a great film about scammers from different walks-of-life. Very hard-hitting, very cynical, moreso than I'm used to seeing from this era.

 

My comment concerns the ending and how the Hollywood production code sometimes pulls the rug out from under itself, to put it mildly. This is one of those. When a movie is so harsh that the code has to break it's own rules to deal with it. Yep, instead of letting the criminal come to justice this is one time that they decided to save him from his hideous fate. This is the first time I've ever seen this. Did it happen often? I know the code would go to pretty much any length to make a film meet the requirements, but this time it just seemed to shoot itself in the foot.

 

Any thoughts? This could be about anything, really. The film, the code, their desperate attempt to hold on to what's left of Ty Power's classic screen image throughout this uncharacteristically edgy movie. You know.

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I hadn't seen this before last night. I really enjoyed it, a great film about scammers from different walks-of-life. Very hard-hitting, very cynical, moreso than I'm used to seeing from this era.

 

My comment concerns the ending and how the Hollywood production code sometimes pulls the rug out from under itself, to put it mildly. This is one of those. When a movie is so harsh that the code has to break it's own rules to deal with it. Yep, instead of letting the criminal come to justice this is one time that they decided to save him from his hideous fate. This is the first time I've ever seen this. Did it happen often? I know the code would go to pretty much any length to make a film meet the requirements, but this time it just seemed to shoot itself in the foot.

 

Any thoughts? This could be about anything, really. The film, the code, their desperate attempt to hold on to what's left of Ty Power's classic screen image throughout this uncharacteristically edgy movie. You know.

I feel the ending relates more to "their desperate attempt to hold on to what's left of Ty Power's classic screen image throughout this uncharacteristically edgy movie"  ("their" being the producers \ studio suits). 

 

Note that the person that really gets away with their crimes is the Helen Walker character.    She also got all that loot!

 

But for the Power character,  even if he didn't do time for his crimes he was clearly punished for them,  even with the semi-happy ending.

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Good points. I'd overlooked how much Helen Walker got away with in this one. I suppose it was the attempt to make Ty Power's character more sympathetic that led them to take mercy in the end. A conclusion that I suspect satisfied no one. Sometimes I get the feeling that many directors put together a code-enforced ending in such a way that it could be easily dismissed by audiences. Though it's better that way than letting the code people scare you off of even attempting such a film.

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Hi Kay;

I'm surprised there aren't more comments about Nightmare Alley. For one thing, it's a comparatively rare noir, one doen't see it aired all that often, and for that alone, it deserves some attention.

For another, it's an exceptionally strange and sad story, even for noir; there's a lot to say about it.

 

Regarding the "stuck-on" happy ending: You could see that Power was going to end up as a "geek", because the film made such a point of showing how fascinated he was by them. Right at the outset, Stanton kept staring after the geek and saying things like "How does a man come to sink so low?" So, anyone who's seen this kind of movie knows that Stanton himself is probably going to become one himself.

 

The figure of the geek in old carnivals is one of the most pathetic and compelling "attractions" these places had. How does  a person end up sinking so low, anyway?

(Side note: Anyone read Robertson's Davies' World of Wonders ? There's a really interesting geek story in that.But I digress...)

 

The other thing about the fate of geekdom, from which Stanton is rescued by the deus ex machina of the studio bosses, is that it usually takes quite a bit of time to become that degraded and that desperate. Years. But for the sake of brevity, plus the shock value, plus the irony of Power's character becoming the very thing he both despised and pitied, the film speeds things up and has him on the brink of geekdom after just a year or two from the story's outset.

 

And yes, it's really Helen Walker who gets away with everything. Now, there's a genuine femme fatale.

 

A few other things about Nightmare Alley that I love:

 

The scenes with the carnival settings; I love the seedy, vaguely unlawful atmosphere that carnival films alwalys have. Anything can happen.

 

Joan Blondell as the borderline washed-up con woman. She's always good, is Joan.

 

The scene where Powers more or less coerces Coleen Grey into dressing up as the old rich man's long lost dead love. At once shameful, eerie, and sad.

 

Lots more , but this post is long enough.

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The other thing about the fate of geekdom, from which Stanton is rescued by the deus ex machina of the studio bosses, is that it usually takes quite a bit of time to become that degraded and that desperate. Years. But for the sake of brevity, plus the shock value, plus the irony of Power's character becoming the very thing he both despised and pitied, the film speeds things up and has him on the brink of geekdom after just a year or two from the story's outset.

 

Thanks for your review, MissWonderly, I agree with what you wrote. What you said here about the rapid wind-up of the film is something I noticed, too. In one scene he accepts the offer to be the geek, in the next scene the geek has gone mad! (which is how he's supposed to be, anyway, right?) Had it not been so rushed it would have worked better, but it probably also would have been less believable (if possible) that his wife could suddenly talk him out of it. My guess is that the studio people wanted to cut this part of the film as short as possible.

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"I'm surprised there aren't more comments about Nightmare Alley. For one thing, it's a comparatively rare noir, one doen't see it aired all that often, and for that alone, it deserves some attention.

For another, it's an exceptionally strange and sad story, even for noir; there's a lot to say about it."

_______________________________________________

FYI

there are more comments on "Nightmare..." under the I Just watched thread :)

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Hi Kay;

I'm surprised there aren't more comments about Nightmare Alley. For one thing, it's a comparatively rare noir, one doen't see it aired all that often, and for that alone, it deserves some attention.

For another, it's an exceptionally strange and sad story, even for noir; there's a lot to say about it.

 

You've said a lot and said it very eloquently.  And since Nightmare Alley ranks right up there with The Killers and Out of the Past in my noir pantheon, I was glad to read your comments.

 

One minor point about the movie that I'd add is to note the somewhat sympathetic role of Taylor Holmes.  I mention him only because the first time I saw Nightmare Alley on the Fox Movie Channel several years ago, it was right after I saw Holmes as a mob lawyer in Kiss of Death, a film that was released just two months earlier in 1947.  Let's just say it was rather fascinating to first watch Holmes as the smarmiest possible shady mob mouthpiece, as cynical as can be, and then see him as a sucker supreme who falls hook, line and sinker for Power's slick seance setup.  It's hard to imagine two more completely opposite types.

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If you ever get a chance to see NIGHTMARE ALLEY on the big screen, don't miss it. This is such a great film, even with the softened ending because of the code. Tyrone Power proves that he really can act, Helen Walker and Joan Blondell are great, and there's so much to admire.

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Yes, in their zeal to tack on a somewhat happy ending and redeem the Power character, the code police seemed to totally forget about the Helen Walker character and how she got away with everything and most definitely didnt repent her ways..........

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I'm surprised there aren't more comments about Nightmare Alley. For one thing, it's a comparatively rare noir, one doen't see it aired all that often, and for that alone, it deserves some attention.

 

 

NIGHTMARE ALLEY is rarely shown and I'm glad I DVRed it this time around.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing it.

I hope the tacked-on ending doesn't ruin it too much.

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I hadn't seen Nightmare Alley in a while and holy sh*t, poor TyStan

made one of the dumbest newbie mistakes around. He gave that

$150,000 to the headshrinker to hold for him. Were you born in

a stable son? You always hold onto the money, no matter what.

No matter if you have to put in under the proverbial mattress. So

you almost deserved to go into the geek biz. I never thought he

really wanted to do that all along. That was a last resort. According

to some comments, the book had a more downbeat ending. The

flick had the forced happy one. StanTy started as the geek, but

he worked his way up the ladder and got into the management

program at KFC.

 

Joan Blondell looked pretty good for a babe in her forties. Nice

rack. That couldn't have hurt, drawing the suckers in-wise.

 

 

 

LOL. Yeah, that was a major blunder on Ty's part.....

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NIGHTMARE ALLEY is rarely shown and I'm glad I DVRed it this time around.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing it.

I hope the tacked-on ending doesn't ruin it too much.

 

 

It doesnt for me. I dont think it will for you.

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Big time. I had to deduct five points from his nwar character profile.

He could have put the dough into one or two safe deposit boxes

in different banks. Anything except hand it over to someone else.

 

I guess the more "logical" ending would have had him as a geek

without a future, a warning not to get too big for your britches, or

like the guy says at the end not to reach too far. Sort of that

Dr. Frankenstein thing. But I don't mind the happy ending too much.

How can you hate a guy who uses the every boy had a dog and a

mother with gray hair routine, even if it was just another con.

 

 

Well, the ending isnt "too" happy. You really dont know how things will turn out in the end, so I can accept it.......and you dont know if Ty will wind up in court if that rich guy ever finds him.....

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I used to have problems with the "tacked on" coda to NIGHTMARE ALLEY, believing that it cheapened a perfectly bleak out-line: "Mister, I was made for it." Fox felt the ending was too abrupt and that audiences would actively rebel against the picture's darkness if sent off into the night right there. A glimmer of hope was needed ... but over time I've come to see the ending as perfectly noir, if not as immediately devastating. After all, Stan and Molly will now recreate the exact fate that befell Zena and Pete. She knows the code and she'll find a young cohort to be in her act while rum-dun Stan helps out in the pit and searches out a fresh bottle. Not exactly an uplifting ending...

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.... So

you almost deserved to go into the geek biz. I never thought he

really wanted to do that all along. That was a last resort. .....

 

Oh, of course Stan never wanted to become a geek. I didn't say that, I said he was fascinated by geeks, which to me signalled that by the end of the film he was going to be a geek.  Not exactly a career choice you'd tell your folks about.  ("Ma, when I grow up I want to be a geek." )

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Nightmare Alley has less violence than Bambi, lol. That being said i still like the movie.

 

 

(foot stomp ! )  Why do you always go on about murders and violence in film noir? Yes, sure, there is often violence, to a greater or lesser degree, and often- but not always - there's a murder. Or two.

 

But I've never heard or read anywhere that lots of violence is a requirement for a "valid" film noir. Have you written a book on the subject, that you hold all these rigid opinions about noir?

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I posted about this film on another thread, but I thought this movie was great--it was so crazy.  I also found it somewhat uncomfortable, which is a great trait to have in a noir.  Carnivals make the best settings--they're so creepy.  I also love how classic films are so educational.  I had no idea what a "geek" was, except for the modern sense.  Thanks to this film, I performed some research and now I know what a geek is. 

 

I thought this was a great film.  While I'd seen Tyrone Power in a film, I never really was able to determine the scope of his acting skills.  He was very good in this film.

 

On a shallow note, Power was considered a great heartthrob at Fox-- I don't see it.  He didn't do anything for me.  He wasn't ugly in this film, but he wasn't drop dead gorgeous either.

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Good post speedy, But I disagree about Tyrone. He was a heartrob for a very good reason, he was gorgeous. You need to see more of his films to see what a fine actor and how truly handsome he was.

 

While Errol was a very handsome man and a good actor so was Ty and to be honest I think Ty was a better actor. Classically trained and had a wider range than Errol. You need to see Mark of Zorro, Razor's Edge, Long Grey Line, Witness For the Prosecution, Blood and Sand just to name a few.

 

We've had long posts in the past about how perfect Ty was as Zorro. Tom did a wonderful thread about it last year.I hope you get to see more of Ty's films, I think you might then recognize his appeal.

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I had never seen Nightmare Alley until I checked it out on Watch TCM.  I think Tyrone Power got exactly what he deserved in this one.  He used women to achieve his fame and credibility, but he would ditch them once he felt they were no longer useful to him.  His character goes full circle, which made for a great picture.  Credit to the makeup artists too in the final scenes; the handsome and dashing Tyrone Power with messed up teeth and a uni-brow?

 

I would take a bit of an issue with the thought that Dr. Ritter "got away" with anything.  It seemed clear from the outset of her introduction in the film that she thought Stanton Carlisle was a fraud and a charlatan.  When she couldn't expose him as easily as she intimated to her dinner party in her first scene, I think she realized she had to put a lot more effort into her task.  Even though not stated, I think she had the moral compass to return the ill-gotten money to Mr. Grindle.

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I had never seen Nightmare Alley until I checked it out on Watch TCM.  I think Tyrone Power got exactly what he deserved in this one.  He used women to achieve his fame and credibility, but he would ditch them once he felt they were no longer useful to him.  His character goes full circle, which made for a great picture.  Credit to the makeup artists too in the final scenes; the handsome and dashing Tyrone Power with messed up teeth and a uni-brow?

 

I would take a bit of an issue with the thought that Dr. Ritter "got away" with anything.  It seemed clear from the outset of her introduction in the film that she thought Stanton Carlisle was a fraud and a charlatan.  When she couldn't expose him as easily as she intimated to her dinner party in her first scene, I think she realized she had to put a lot more effort into her task.  Even though not stated, I think she had the moral compass to return the ill-gotten money to Mr. Grindle.

 

"Mr. Grindle?  Dr. Ritter here.  I'm sorry to hear that you had to be hospitalized after your unfortunate encounter with that charlatan who bilked you out of $150,000 with rumors of my assistance, but it was all necessary to expose him, even though I only read about it in the newspapers....

 

"Well, yes, it's true he got away.  Yes, it's true that you were on life support for a few days after your lifelong dream had been crushed with what scurrilous gossipmongers have said was with my help....

 

"You say how did this lowlife grifter know about Dori?  That's an interesting question, but you see Mr. Carlisle was also a patient of mine, and to give you that information would be violating the ethics of my profession. 

 

"You must realize that there's ethics in this business, the same as any other."

 

3696-771.jpg

I'm Don Costello, and I endorse this message.

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Good post speedy, But I disagree about Tyrone. He was a heartrob for a very good reason, he was gorgeous. You need to see more of his films to see what a fine actor and how truly handsome he was.

 

While Errol was a very handsome man and a good actor so was Ty and to be honest I think Ty was a better actor. Classically trained and had a wider range than Errol. You need to see Mark of Zorro, Razor's Edge, Long Grey Line, Witness For the Prosecution just to name a few.

 

We've had long posts in the past about how perfect Ty was as Zorro. Tom did a wonderful thread about it last year.I hope you get to see more of Ty's films, I think you might then recognize his appeal.

I'll have to check more of Power's films out. I wasn't comparing him to Errol when I said that Power didn't do anything for me looks wise, he just didn't do anything for me in general. Which I'm not saying anything about his acting, I thought he was great in this film, I just won't need to buy a Tyrone Power beefcake poster to hang on the ceiling above my bed (lol).

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I'll have to check more of Power's films out. I wasn't comparing him to Errol when I said that Power didn't do anything for me looks wise, he just didn't do anything for me in general. Which I'm not saying anything about his acting, I thought he was great in this film, I just won't need to buy a Tyrone Power beefcake poster to hang on the ceiling above my bed (lol).

Forgot to add Blood and Sand to the must see list.Never say never, after seeing more of his films, you just might get that poster lol

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