Nightmare Alley

Nightmare Alley ★★★★½

Just gobsmackingly superb. Close to perfect. I was legitimately gripped from start to finish. Tyrone Power is not an especially handsome man but it doesn’t matter, his charisma is like a black hole - magnetic and obliterating. Helen Walker is also a revelation. It’s a wonder she wasn’t more of a star (although her Wikipedia makes for sensational reading and goes some way to explaining why) because her withering gaze practically blisters through the screen. From the moment she first appears I knew she was up to something but I still fell for it.

The epilogue is a little patchy, pacing-wise, and I’ve seen complaints that it’s overly moralistic. But this is a film made under the Hays Code so of course it’s puritanical and didactic. Expecting anything else is ignorance. It’s a classic tale of hubris - pride and a downfall - and so even out of context I think it makes perfect sense.

This has reignited my love for classic noir and I’m so happy I watched it.