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Nightmare Alley

     Never be too proud. There's a geek inside all of us, waiting to drag us into the pit, where, rum-soaked and diseased, we crawl about, chewing the heads off screaming chickens. That's the cautionary message of William Lindsay Greshem's 1946 novel, Nightmare Alley, the tale of an ambitious heel, Stan Carlisle, who goes from carnival down-and-out to show-business glory as a mind-reading "mentalist" to alcoholic degradation as a sideshow freak. The 1947 movie version of Nightmare Alley, revived March 10-ll at the Brattle, has been tidied a bit with some uncomfortable Hollywood redemption, but Tyrone Power in a too-tight undershirt is a dandy Stan, a plump Joan Blondell and a dyed-blonde Mike Mazurski are swell carnie types, and the little-known starlet Colleen Gray is scrumptuous as Stan's oft-suffering girlfriend.

(March, 2000)


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