Review: Nightmare Alley


Stan (Bradley Cooper) is a drifter who ends up getting a job as a carny under Clem. (Willem DaFoe) His ambitions eventually take him even further, but when he meets Doctor Ritter (Cate Blanchett) his deceptions are going to run deeper than they ever have before.

If this film's hefty 2 and a half hour run time is putting you off, don't worry. This film feels shockingly short. It covers a lot of ground but it went by a lot faster than I expected it to. I know this is a remake of a 1947 film, but I can't say that I ever saw it. In fact, I didn't even read about it. I saw it based on the trailer alone, which doesn't give you a whole lot of what's going on. I loved that.

This film is gorgeous. The cinematography, the sets, the costumes. The only film I've found as pretty this year is Spencer. While that film was light and airy, this is dark and filled with lots of reds and jewel tones. It's fitting for a movie about someone obsessed with power and money. Stan love all of that, and he's not above getting his hands dirty.

There are so many amazing actors in this, I couldn't possibly list them. Every time we met a new person, it was someone I recognized and loved. Ones like Toni Collette and David Strathairn are only with us briefly, but others like Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett spend more time with us and soar. Bradley Cooper is the MVP. He gives another great performance. 

I think at times the story did get a bit muddy. I don't want to go as far as calling it confusing, but I felt like some significant chunks maybe got lost in editing somewhere, but it didn't diminish the experience too much. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "I don't know what you need, but it isn't me." - Molly (Rooney Mara)


Comments

  1. I a totally oqn the original film starring Tyrone Power and I really like that film. I will rewatch it before watching this one which I do wish to see.

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    1. I hope you like this one too! I'm really going to have to watch the original to compare.

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  2. I do hope to see this sometime next year as I do love Guillermo and I really enjoyed the 1947 film version as it's just visually cool and it's a really dark film. I totally recommend it.

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  3. I do want to see this but it has a far piece to go to top the original which is one of the darkest noirs out there.

    The material is ideally suited to that genre since the pinnings of the story are pitch black to begin with and only get more so as it moves along. It was a passion project for Tyrone Power who at the time was one of 20th Century Fox's biggest stars. Studio chief Darryl Zanuck was dead set against it since he deemed the commercial prospects of the script negligible but Power, who had just returned from military duty in WWII had an enormous hit with The Razor's Edge and Zanuck relented. The film contains Ty's best performance, and was his favorite of his films, but it flopped hard despite critical praise and it was back to swashbucklers and action films for him. It was highly lucrative for both the studio and him but he remained dissatisfied and fled to the stage whenever possible.

    The picture slide from public consciousness for a few decades but when discussions of noir became more frequent it was rediscovered and lauded, gaining a cache it never enjoyed during Power's regrettable short life, he died of a heart attack at 44 after filming a strenuous sword fight for the film Solomon and Sheba-he was replaced by Yul Brynner.

    Besides his very impressive performance the film is loaded with superior work. Coleen Gray is good as Molly but it's the least demanding of the four main roles. Joan Blondell is great as Zeena, she lends a real sense of pathos to the character. The real standout though, along with Power, is the sadly little known Helen Walker (a woman with her own complex, tragic life story) who plays the pit viper Lilith with an almost reptilian air. I have a hard time imagining anyone topping her ice cold performance.

    I'm a big fan of the cast of this new version, except for Rooney Mara who has never impressed me, but they have a very high bar to meet to match let alone surpass the work of the first. I've heard this has a great look using color very effectively, that will provide an interesting contrast to the first which was in black and white which it likewise used to great effect.

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    1. It is beautiful. I'll have to check out the original since I've heard so many people speak very highly of it.

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  4. The film is indeed gorgeous as are the cast. Glad you like this too and I agree Bradley is the MVP here, he's gotten better as an actor over time I think.

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    1. He has. My husband and I always joke that Josh Lucas must hate him because he stole the career he could've had. He gets better with age.

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