Possibly the most underrated film noir ever. If Freaks had a con man son, Nightmare Alley would be it. Tyrone Power gets ahead through Jedi mind tricks and pure son of a bitchery from the carnivals to the big time. For as predictable as the story becomes I still love it but the griminess of the first half and how well it was photographed make up for it. Plus the idea of carnie film noir is intriguing in itself.
Some nice images/scenes (like the one in this screenshot) but this noir leans heavily on melodrama. And I'm taking off a star for the crass misinterpretation of tarot cards. They could have easily consulted someone who actually understands what the cards really mean.
A moody and dark first half, lots of swindling and ambiguity, but I was somehow expecting even more sleaze and a less straightforward plot. Tyrone Power's magnetic performance carries the whole film, and it's a shame he didn't get more roles like this.
What intrigued me the most was that in spite of the somewhat patriarchal times in which the movie was filmed, it seems like Power's character was controlled by the Three Moires, it's like he was just a puppet driven by his own megalomania and a female (non sexual) force.
At first, a Carny love-and-murder tale; then, an attack on modern religion; then, a descent into personal hell. That those three plot elements intersect to create a cohesive whole is saying something. The Hollywood cop-out ending almost (thankfully, only almost) ruins it.