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Hey Ian.   I'm a big fan of Nightmare Alley but yea, being a noir film there isn't a hero (i.e. someone to root for).   Related to your comment about gangster film stars being someone to root for even if they were immoral characters;  well I found Power to be charming and slick and since his prey were religious folks (I'm not),  I felt they somewhat deserved to be taken in.  

 

What really makes this film for me is Helen Walker's character;   she cons the con and gets away with it.   Walker didn't make a lot of films but she is fine in this one;  so cold and cunning.     

 

What I didn't like was the sappy ending;  if one is going to make a dark film I say keep  it dark all the way.  But the ending was 20th Century Fox way to protect the box office by saving Power from total destruction.

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Hey James, 

 

I'm glad you and faceinthecrowd like the movie so much. Helen Walker just didn't do anything special for me. There are plenty of "noir" films where I cheer for someone. This just happened to be one where I did not like the characters. I liked the movie, but I didn't think it was special. I love hearing your replies! And thank you for taking the time to watch the video. Not many people have watched it, and it's really nice to know someone took the time to listen to my opinions. My next review is going to be "Portrait of Jennie." I thought it was interesting and definitely worth watching! 

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What makes this picture outstanding is Helen Walker's performance as Lilith Ritter, who is just as amoral as Stanton, but smarter and more ruthless. And it's unusual to see Tyrone Power playing a heel.

I'm a Helen Walker fan. I love her in this film.

 

I did a big write-up on her in a thread last year on the General Discussions board.

 

She's simply brilliant in IMPACT, a very good modestly budgeted noir from 1949.

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  • 1 month later...

Ian--your opinion is one I disagree with.  "Nightmare Alley" is at least a 3 star film--simply because it was such a departure from Tyrone Powers' usual hero roles & because he did such a Good job.  Coleen Gray didn't bother me as much as her performance.  Helen Walker was a standout performer--she got away with everything--& censors slept through it.  In Noirs, there isn't always someone to cheer for--See "Kiss Me Deadly" (1955)--In my opinion, it's a must-see Noir--but there's nobody to cheer for.  We agree to disagree on Nightmare Alley.  If you watch "Kiss Me Deadly, let me know what you think.

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Helen Walker was a standout performer--she got away with everything--& censors slept through it.  

I agree.

 

The signature that currently appears at the bottom of my posts is a line of dialogue Helen Walker spoke in THE BIG COMBO. She plays a delusional mental patient in that one. In my opinion, she was one of the best actresses in noir (almost better than Barbara Stanwyck, Lizabeth Scott, Ann Savage and Jane Greer)...she hits every one of these roles out of the park.

 

I wish TCM would give her a primetime spotlight. 

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Haha this is the one movie I seem to disagree on the most with people. I understand that this role was "different" for Tyrone Power...he did a good job. Helen Walker seemed to just play the cold emotionless beauty out for money...I didn't get a whole lot out of her other than blank stares and grins. I didn't like any of the characters...it just wasn't enjoyable for me is all. Sometimes that happens with me. If I don't like anyone in the movie, I probably won't end up like the movie much. However, it did have elements to it that I liked which is why I gave it near 3 stars. I was surprised to see how many people liked the movie! haha I'm the minority in this one which is kind of fun.

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Haha this is the one movie I seem to disagree on the most with people. I understand that this role was "different" for Tyrone Power...he did a good job. Helen Walker seemed to just play the cold emotionless beauty out for money...I didn't get a whole lot out of her other than blank stares and grins. I didn't like any of the characters...it just wasn't enjoyable for me is all. Sometimes that happens with me. If I don't like anyone in the movie, I probably won't end up like the movie much. However, it did have elements to it that I liked which is why I gave it near 3 stars. I was surprised to see how many people liked the movie! haha I'm the minority in this one which is kind of fun.

I think it's a 3-star film, not any higher. From what I have read, it was the one Ty Power was most proud of...but that is probably because he was able to select the script (usually, I think he was forced to do what they handed him). But just because it's the performer's personal favorite, that obviously does not mean it's a favorite of audiences.

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Haha this is the one movie I seem to disagree on the most with people. I understand that this role was "different" for Tyrone Power...he did a good job. Helen Walker seemed to just play the cold emotionless beauty out for money...I didn't get a whole lot out of her other than blank stares and grins. I didn't like any of the characters...it just wasn't enjoyable for me is all. Sometimes that happens with me. If I don't like anyone in the movie, I probably won't end up like the movie much. However, it did have elements to it that I liked which is why I gave it near 3 stars. I was surprised to see how many people liked the movie! haha I'm the minority in this one which is kind of fun.

 

Just my POV here,  but when I rate a movie (e.g. number of stars),  liking the characters in the movie doesn't impact the rating.

 

Take Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf;  I don't like any of the characters in that movie, and the movie isn't very fun to watch,  but I would rate it high because it is a first rate production with fine acting.      To me the rating of a film isn't the same as liking the film or the characters in the film.     i.e. my ratings reflect my view of the quality of the film and NOT a personal likeability scale.

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Just my POV here,  but when I rate a movie (e.g. number of stars),  liking the characters in the movie doesn't impact the rating.

 

Take Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf;  I don't like any of the characters in that movie, and the movie isn't very fun to watch,  but I would rate it high because it is a first rate production with fine acting.      To me the rating of a film isn't the same as liking the film or the characters in the film.     i.e. my ratings reflect my view of the quality of the film and NOT a personal likeability scale.

Is it really that cut-and-dried, James?  

 

Last night I watched HONEYMOON IN BALI, with Fred MacMurray and Madeleine Carroll. Before I sat down to watch it, I violated one of my cardinal rules and read user reviews on the IMDb plus Maltin's comments (usually, I do that after I finish watching something). I expected Maltin in particular to call it fluff, since it was a rom-com from the late 30s made in the way that only Paramount could make them. 

 

So as I started watching, the first twenty minutes are rather slow and almost tedious. I thought to myself, why did Maltin give this three stars out of four...why do IMDb users love this film so much? But after another half hour, it became very clear-- the characters suddenly came to life and the romance was believably and beautifully told. It had worked its magic on me, because the actors found something in those characters-- and the script itself had developed those characters so well that you couldn't help but love the film. I plan to watch it again in the very near future.

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Is it really that cut-and-dried, James?  

 

Last night I watched HONEYMOON IN BALI, with Fred MacMurray and Madeleine Carroll. Before I sat down to watch it, I violated one of my cardinal rules and read user reviews on the IMDb plus Maltin's comments (usually, I do that after I finish watching something). I expected Maltin in particular to call it fluff, since it was a rom-com from the late 30s made in the way that only Paramount could make them. 

 

So as I started watching, the first twenty minutes are rather slow and almost tedious. I thought to myself, why did Maltin give this three stars out of four...why do IMDb users love this film so much? But after another half hour, it became very clear-- the characters suddenly came to life and the romance was believably and beautifully told. It had worked its magic on me, because the actors found something in those characters-- and the script itself had developed those characters so well that you couldn't help but love the film. I plan to watch it again in the very near future.

 

Note I was discussing how to I would give reviews and ratings associated with my review.    To me that task (job really),  is different than just liking or disliking the actors, director,  characters,  genre etc...

 

Of course one can't be objective but one must try.

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I never read other reviews on movies before watching! The most that I do is look at the amount of stars it was given on IMDB or it's tomato meter on Rotten Tomatoes...It would seem we review movies a bit differently, James. To me, a movie is all about enjoying the experience. If I didn't enjoy it, the movie won't get a high rating, it's as simple as that. The stars that I gave this movie were for Tyrone Power's performance and the dark settings of the movie, I enjoyed both! I suppose this movie could be a 3 star movie as TopBilled stated, but no way would I go higher than that. 

 

Also, that's interesting what you said about this being Tyrone Power's movie he was most proud of. Seems like he and old Flynn loved any chance they were not in tights and swinging a sword!

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Also, that's interesting what you said about this being Tyrone Power's movie he was most proud of. Seems like he and old Flynn loved any chance they were not in tights and swinging a sword!

Yes, and the swashbucklers are what made them household names. But in action films, there is often not much chance to emote or act per se. I think perhaps Ty liked the fact he could play a completely different type of character in NIGHTMARE ALLEY. At that stage of his career, he was probably growing restless with the typical studio material and fearing that he was badly typecast. He wanted to stretch himself as an actor (his father was a renowned stage performer).

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TopBilled--I know you weren't replying to me when you said  "Is it really that cut-and-dried"?  Yes, sometimes it is, especially in Film Noirs (I'm thinking especially  of "Angel Face" (1953), & "Kiss Me Deadly (1955),) & the 1982 musical "Pennies From Heaven" (not the 1936 one with Bing Crosby) that is technically brilliant, but the one where the script seems to delight in having the characters experience one misfortune/disaster after another (see, I've just let my personal feelings get in the way of rating a film-- what I try not to do but sometimes fail totally at--jamesjazzguitar was right when he said "my ratings reflect my view of the quality of the film and NOT a personal likeability scale.  I'm not that  advanced as a film reviewer, but I try. :)

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