FOX FILM NOIR 06 NIGHTMARE ALLEY Studio: 20th Century Fox Film Year: 1947 Rating: NR Film Length: 110 minutes Genre: Drama Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.37:1 Colour/B&W: B&W Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo Subtitles: English, Spanish Closed Captioned: Yes SLP: US $14.98 SLP: CDN $16.98 Release Date: June 7, 2005 Film Rating: / Starring: Tyrone Power (Stanton Carlisle), Coleen Gray (Molly Carlisle), Joan Blondell (Zeena Krumbein), Helen Walker (Lilith Ritter), Ian Keith (Pete Krumbein) Directed by: Edmund Goulding Here’s a movie that grasped my attention: carnies, con artists, mind-reading and a live-chicken-eating crazy madman known as The Geek. They all come together in this sinister melodrama about deception and selfishness. Tyrone Power teams up again with director Edmund Goulding to tell the story of Stanton Carlisle, a carnival assistant to the mind-reading act of Zeena. She can’t read minds, of course, but she puts on a convincing show that hooks the attendees. But Stanton’s cons haven’t sunk low enough until he betrays Zeena’s infatuation for him to learn a secret code from her so he can use it for his own advantage. With the help of a partner who also knows the code, this helps Stanton convince the audience he is able to read minds. After Zeena teaches him what he wants to know, he ditches her to run off with a younger and more beautiful carnie to become The Great Stanton. The two of them become stars in high profile nightclubs wooing the rich and influencing their lives. But not all fall for their hidden gag. Sometimes it takes a conniving person to recognize another. By means of Zeena’s Tarot Cards, Stanton knows his fate if he continues on has he does. The cards were not in his favour (maybe that is where that saying came from??) He doesn’t want to believe the superstition Zeena has, not even what information the lousy cards say, but he can’t quite let the superstition pass. The cards didn’t lie in the past. With Zeena out of his life and a wife who is becoming unwilling to cooperate with him, The Great Stanton’s rise to fame could fall as quickly as it begun and a new chapter in his life could open a door to paranoia and madness. Awesome flick; I loved it a lot. I like to see how greed burns bridges for people and makes them as outcasts out of personal desire. These kinds of movies are always stressful to me, especially when it is well acted like this one. Tyrone Power has an excellent and cold performance in this film. His sneakiness and ill-intentions are brought on the screen with much better reality than his previous film The Razor’s Edge, where he acted a little more like he was in a dreamy state of mind. Joan Blondell also put on a great show as Zeena and I felt the two of them worked better together than Power and Coleen Gray (as his wife). But maybe that’s how it was supposed to be. Stanton had a great working friendship with Zeena and her intentions were real. Stanton on the other hand, used her to rise out of the carnival and to become the greatest mind reader ever. VIDEO QUALITY / I’ll be right to the point: I wanted to give this title four and a half stars but I was a little agitated to see someone added some edge enhancement to this title. It isn’t mild, it’s noticeable, and while it doesn’t stand out in every single scene, the times it does it bothers me. I don’t know why someone decided to crank up the artificial sharpening on this title because the rest of the noir titles seem to have minimal if any edge sharpening at all. Anyways, I felt the need to tell you that I noticed that annoying white line along the edges of objects when they are contrasted against a background or something. I may have been harsh with those comments, but this isn’t to say the image is terrible. The image quality of this disc is fantastic. It has very good detail when viewing it through an HDMI output on my newly-added Denon DVD-3910. It seems almost every bit of detail on the DVD format is being sent out of this player – I love it! The image is clean of dirt and grain. There are very little problems with the image, so enjoy it! AUDIO QUALITY / Like the other noir titles, the audio is clear acceptable. Nothing sounds distorted and there isn’t much strain to the sounds we here. Stick to the Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack unless you like simulated stereo and surround, where you’d hear the dialogue spread all around the room rather than on screen. Background hiss isn’t noticeable unless you crank up the volume. SPECIAL FEATURES / Continuing on with their appearances on Fox film noir DVD is - can you guess who? – James Ursini and Alain Silver! Not that I mind of course, I love hearing these guys pour out their knowledge on noir. They are always a delight to listen to, never boring, and have tonnes to say about the films. Their presence on these DVDs as film noir historians gives added bonus to these discs. I’m looking forward to their inclusion on future titles. The theatrical trailer for Nightmare Alley is included on here but something seems wrong: the narration is missing. There is music and dialogue from the film clips shown here, but the narrator’s voice is absent. I can’t imagine the trailer being released in the theatres like this. What happened here?? Trailers for other noir titles are (I imagine the upcoming) Dark Corner as well as the already released Laura, Panic in the Streets, House of Bamboo and The Street with no Name. IN THE END… A noir not based on crime but rather a tragic set of events, Nightmare Alley is a different addition to the noir titles since Panic in the Streets. The whole film reeks of tragedy; you know the characters are in for a rough ride. That’s what makes the film noir titles so great. It would be a tragedy if you never gave this title a chance. Recommended. Michael Osadciw June 7, 2005.