Nightmare Alley (1947) - Rotten Tomatoes

Nightmare Alley1947

Nightmare Alley (1947)



Critic Consensus: Playing against type with Nightmare Alley, Tyrone Power and Edmund Goulding deliver some of their best work in a carnival-set noir unafraid to showcase true despair.

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Movie Info

Nightmare Alley is the story of a con man who recruits a couple of amatuers as his partners.

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Tyrone Power
as Stanton Carlisle
Helen Walker
as Dr. Lilith Ritter
Taylor Holmes
as Ezra Grindle
Julia Dean
as Mrs. Peabody
James Flavin
as Clem Hoatley
James Burke
as Town Marshal
Maurice Navarro
as Fire Eater
Leo Z. Gray
as Detective
Robert Karnes
as Hotel Bellboy
Marjorie Wood
as Mrs. Prescott
Harry V. Cheshire
as Mr. Prescott
Eddy Waller
as Old Farmer
Hollis Jewell
as Delivery Boy
Nina Gilbert
as Worried Mother
Bill Free
as Man in Spode Room
Jerry Miley
as Friend in Spode Room
Gilbert Wilson
as Husband in Spode Room
June Bolyn
as Maid in Grindle Room
Gene Roth
as Masseur
Jerry Wald
as Radio Announcer
Florence Auer
as Housekeeper
Al Herman
as Cab Driver
John Wald
as Radio Announcer
Clancy Cooper
as Stage Manager
George Mathews
as Knife Thrower
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Critic Reviews for Nightmare Alley

All Critics (60) | Top Critics (21)

If Nightmare Alley isn't precisely tasty entertainment, at least it has been colorfully and harshly set forth with better than average character sketches lending it a certain unsavory interest and morbid fascination.

December 7, 2021 | Full Review…

All together the film has a great deal of accumulative impact. It is a thoroughly unpleasant, but salutary picture. It should pull both potential dupes and the potentially ruthless up good and short.

December 7, 2021 | Full Review…

The dialogue has plenty of punch, and the photography, especially in the tawdry tent world, is expert. If you like your movies rough and realistic, you'll find this one entertaining for the most part.

December 7, 2021 | Full Review…

Despite some fine and intense acting by Mr. Power and others, this film traverses distasteful dramatic ground and only rarely does it achieve any substance as entertainment.

December 7, 2021 | Full Review…

Edmund Goulding is a director who knows how to squeeze emotions out of players; and his production, repellent as its theme may be, develops considerable fascination up to the closing reel or so.

December 7, 2021 | Full Review…

The hero is a heel from beginning to end. He doesn't merit or get any sympathy from the audience, and the ending is merely depressing.

December 7, 2021 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Nightmare Alley


The seedy underworld of the travelling carnival is the setting for this cautionary tale. This is an excellent example of the film noir genre; Film noir explored the darker side of society, in addition to looking darker on film. No one could be more of an outcast than a carnival geek, although this film was not as lurid with reference to the geek as I expected. It is really more of a morality tale, a cautionary expose. The key is the line that's repeated at the beginning of the film and the end: "How did he get so low?, he reached too high." Tyrone Power excels as Stanton, an opportunistic sociopath chewing through victims, taking advantage of everyone he meets, and Colleen Gray is "electric as well." What a beauty, and clad pretty thinly for the time!

Clintus Maximus
Clintus Maximus

Super Reviewer

A touching, dramatic, exciting, romantic, interesting film. I loved Power as the young man who aims too high, goes too far, pushes too much to get what he thinks he deserves. It's pretty long, but very worth seeing.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer


Nightmare Alley gets better every time I see it. The photography is so beautiful and simultaneously sleazy that I felt like I need a tetanus shot after watching it. Tyrone Power plays a great prick who gets what he wants through Jedi mind tricks and a series of screw jobs. Obviously things aren't going to end well for such an unscrupulous character and said ending may be a little predictable. But watching a film noir carnie movie is one of those things that blow your mind once you stop to think about it. Like deep fried pickles...

Michael Gildea
Michael Gildea

Super Reviewer

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