10 octobre 1947. Un film noir sur un champ de foire, voilà qui peut être intéressant. Le passant solitaire a gardé une âme d’enfant et faire se percuter drame et innocence lui parle. Direction le Mayfair pour découvrir ce Nightmare Alley signé Edmund Goulding avec Tyrone Power et Coleen Gray.
Critique d’époque :
« Tyrone Power has that mystical glint in his eyes again in Nightmare Alley, but there’s a world of difference between his motives in the new Twentieth Century-Fox production, which opened yesterday at the Mayfair, and last year’s The Razor’s Edge.
This time Mr. Power is playing an utterly reprehensible charlatan out to bilk gullible rich folk seeking solace with his artfully contrived manifestations of metaphysical powers. Despite his grandiose scheming, however, Stan Carlisle’s spiritualistic presentations never carry him beyond high-paying supper club engagements. For, as he is about to execute his greatest coup, his wife and reluctant accomplice is suddenly conscience-stricken by the enormity of Stan’s evil purpose.
If one can take any moral value out of Nightmare Alley it would seem to be that a terrible retribution is the inevitable consequence for he who would mockingly attempt to play God. Otherwise, the experience would not be very rewarding for, despite some fine and intense acting by Mr. Power and others, this film traverses distateful dramatic ground and only rarely does it achieve any substance as entertainment.
In his direction Edmund Goulding makes good use of « Nightmare Alley’s » carnival atmosphere and the screen play by Jules Furthman retains most of the spirit of the novel, though it has toned down some of the characters. But, like the book, the film is productive of its moments of shock and revulsion. There is, in fact, little in the way of human wickedness that Mr. Power doesn’t do as the slick-tongued carnival spieler who uses his blandishments on an amorous mind reader to obtain the secret code that once made Zeena and her now whisky-sodden husband a topflight mentalist act.
Mr. Power has a juicy role and sinks his teeth into it, performing with considerable versatility and persuasiveness.Joan Blondell, as the duped mind reader, gives a good, earthy characterization. Helen Walker, playing a phony psychologist who outwits Stan Carlisle in his biggest swindle attempt, is cool and poised as the role demands. But Coleen Gray, while appealing as the innocent sideshow girl Stan is forced into marrying, betrays lack of experience and dramatic expression in her one pivotal scene with Mr. Power when she is trying to make him realize that his travesty of Divine power will end disastrously ». Par T.M.P. pour le New York Times.
Nightmare Alley souffre, aux dires de T.M.P., du même mal que le roman dont il est tiré à savoir un manque de ressort dramatique conséquent. Si l’interprétation est, dans son ensemble, de qualité, le chroniqueur n’hésite pas à égratigner Coleen Gray qu’il juge sans expérience.