Wednesday, February 09, 2022

“Nightmare Alley”

The Oscar-nominated feature “Nightmare Alley", directed by Guillermo Del Toro, based on the 1946 novel by William Lindsay Gresham, stars Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara and Mary Steenburgen:

" ambitious 'carny' (Cooper)...

"...with a talent for manipulating people...

"...with a few well-chosen words...

"...hooks up with a female psychiatrist (Blanchett) who is even more dangerous than he is..." 

"...'in the 1947 feature, 'Nightmare Alley' starring Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell and Coleen Gray, 'Stanton Carlisle' watches the geek show at a carnival asking worker 'Clem Hoately' where 'geeks' come from. Clem explains that geeks are 'made', when a sideshow owner finds an alcoholic bum and offers him a temporary job with a steady supply of liquor.

"Initially, the bum is only asked to pretend to be a geek, using a razor blade to slice chickens' necks and then faking the drinking of the blood. After a few weeks, the owner threatens to end the job and replace the bum with a 'real' geek, and the fear of sobering up terrifies the bum into actually biting the chickens. Thus, a geek is made.

"Stan decides to perform sleight of hand tricks in the sideshow studying under the carnival's mentalist 'Zeena' to learn a refined 'code' act, where performers memorize verbal cues that allow them to appear psychic by accurately answering written audience questions. Stan also begins to pick up Zeena's talent for cold reading.