Nightmare Alley (1947)

Nightmare Alley (1947)

Nightmare Alley (1947). 110 minutes. Directed by Edmund Goulding. Starring Tyrone Power (as Stanton Carlisle), Joan Blondell (as Zeena Krumbein), Coleen Gray (as Molly Carlisle), Helen Walker (as Lilith Ritter), Taylor Holmes (as Ezra Grindle), Mike Mazurki (as Bruno), and Ian Keith (as Pete Krumbein).

Nightmare Alley is a wonderful, exceedingly suggestive, and excessively seedy film noir that follows its protagonist, a mesmerist, as he moves from small-time carnival barker to big-time con artist with legions of devotees. Its themes and atmosphere might quickly convince you that it belongs to the world of noir with its shadows, dark streets, con games, and untrustworthy strangers, but its budget might not. From the sprawling, ten-acre carnival set created for it on the 20th Century Fox backlot to other lush outdoor sets, and even the indulgent evening gowns worn by actress Coleen Gray, Nightmare Alley looks luxurious and expensive, unlike a typical film noir. In spite of its high-end look, the movie was … Read the rest

The Razor’s Edge (1946)

"The Razor's Edge" (1946) featured image

The Razor’s Edge (1946). 145 minutes. Directed by Edmund Goulding. Starring Tyrone Power (as Larry Darrell), Gene Tierney (as Isabel Bradley), Clifton Webb (as Elliott Templeton), Anne Baxter (as Sophie MacDonald), Herbert Marshall (as W. Somerset Maugham), and John Payne (as Gray Maturin).

The Razor’s Edge wants badly to be a profound story of one man’s quest for spiritual enlightenment. Its title comes from a passage in the Katha Upanishad: “The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard.” Protagonist Larry Darrell’s path is challenging insofar as it takes him across several continents and lasts many years. I cannot say that the terms with which Larry articulates his personal quest are as sharply focused as the titular image, but then again most of us have probably met people who describe their project of finding themselves using similarly broad strokes. As a result, the movie is an interesting … Read the rest