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Monday, May 26, 2008

NIGHTMARE ALLEY (1947)


Those pretty boy stars of Fox & M-G-M (Tyrone Power & Robert Taylor) had parallel runs. Each lost their glamor looks after WWII, suffered thru historical epics & then died young. After the war, Taylor was only effective playing soured men, but Power truly worked to try and expand his range, never more successfully than in this perverse shocker about a Carny tout who uses his smooth tongue, torso & sex appeal to rise as a phony mind-reader in posh Chicago clubs. But he over-reaches, and tumbles all the way down to Geekdom back in Carny land. Ian Keith & Joan Blondell are memorable as partners in his early days, but the real creative heroes are lenser Lee Garmes with his ultra-noir stylings & Jules Furthman ’s fabulous script. Edmund Goulding is livelier than in his last Power pic (RAZOR’S EDGE), but swap him for John Brahm & maestro Bernard Herrmann (Fox contractees who had recently made HANGOVER SQUARE) and this might have been a flat out masterpiece. Why it hasn’t been remade (think Di Caprio & Susan Sarandon in the Power & Blondell roles) is beyond me.

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