Monday, February 29, 2016

Nightmare Alley

Many times in an actor's career, they yearn for a change of pace. The comedic actor wants to do drama. The star of countless blockbusters wants to star in a smaller production. This is something that's been happening throughout Hollywood for decades.

Such was the case with Tyrone Power after serving in World War II. Upon resuming his contract at 20th Century Fox, he sought out roles that weren't his usual fare of romantic leads and swashbucklers. One such role was the lead in Edmund Goulding's Nightmare Alley. (They worked together the year before to great success in The Razor's Edge.) And it's a role very much a far cry from his work earlier in the decade.

Nightmare Alley, being a post-war noir, is a very dark title even by then-modern standards. This is a film that has elements reminiscent of Macbeth (yes, really) which is something seldom seen in today's films. (Hey, a Shakespeare allusion doesn't hurt anyone.)

How so with the Macbeth allusions? Well, some aspects of the plot revolves around premonitions (as well as having the occasional scheming woman here and there). It's a detail seen in only a few other films, on occasion film noirs. (It should be done more often.)

Nightmare Alley is one of the unsung greats of the noir genre. As also proven by The Razor's Edge, it shows that Goulding and Power make a great team. (A shame they only worked the two times.) Power may be known strictly as a matinee idol to some but his work here proves he could act.

My Rating: *****

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