BrianRxm Coins in Movies 80/122
Nightmare Alley (1947)
Carnival magician produces US silver peace dollar
Prev Back Next
The 1947 Twentieth Century Fox film "Nightmare Alley", shows a carnival performer holding a silver dollar
as part of his act.
 
The film is based on William Lindsay Gresham's 1944 novel of the same title.
A carnival worker becomes a mentalist and, with his girlfriend, become big time stage performers.
Later he become a spiritualst minister and tries to trick a wealthy man into giving him money to build a church.
 
The film stars Tyrone Power as Stanton 'Stan' Carlisle, Joan Blondell as Zeena Krumbein,
Coleen Gray as Molly, and Helen Walker as Lilith Ritter.
 
A character known as the "Geek" plays an important role.
Nightmare Alley
1. Title
 
The film stars Tyrone Power as Stanton Carlisle, Joan Blondell as Zeena Krumbein,
Coleen Gray as Molly, Helen Walker as Dr. Lilith Ritter.
 
The book and film introduced the slang word "Geek", an alcoholic carnival performer
"wild man" or "missing link" who bites the heads off of chickens and snakes and is paid with
"a bottle a day and a dry place to sleep it off".
 
The Geek is the underlying character of the film, which asks the question:
"How does a man become a Geek?"
Stanton Carlisle finds out.
 
Stanton Carlisle works for a travelling carnival in the 1930's.
Zeena Krumbein is a fortune teller who Stanton works with.
Molly is a young pretty girl who wears a skimpy costume as "Electric Girl".
 
Zeena and her husband Peter know a voice code, however, Peter is a drunkard who can no longer work.
Stanton gets Peter drunk and Peter does a "cold reading" on Stanton which greatly impresses him.
Peter dies and Zeena teaches Stanton and Molly the code.
 
Stanton works briefly with Zenna, but then he and Molly head for
Chicago's Sherman Hotel to put on a mentalist act, using the voice code.
Stanton tells Zeena that he was destined for the "big time", "I was made for it".
 
Stanton then becomes a spirtualist minister or "spook worker" and
convinces some wealthy people that he can contact their deceased relatives.
Stanton has been seeing Dr. Lilith Ritter, a psychologist,
who gives him personal information on some of her patients.
 
He tries his scheme on Mr. Grindle, using Molly to impersonate Grindle's secret lost girlfriend.
Molly is reluctant to do the impersonation and Grindle is not fooled.
 
Stanton runs away, leaving Molly, sees Lilith, leaves with some cash, and discovers that
Lilith has swapped small notes for the large ones, leaving him a few hundred dollars.
 
Stanton starts drinking, becomes a hobo, and winds up at a travelling carnival.
He asks for a job and the manager offers him a position as a geek.
 
Stanton replies "I was made for it".
 
Nightmare Alley
2. Carnival midway
 
Nightmare Alley
3. The Geek
 
Now this creature - There he is, THE GEEK!
He has puzzled the foremost scientists of Europe and America.
Is he the missing link? Is he man or beast?
Some have pronounced him man. But beneath that shaggy mane of hair lies the brain of a beast.
 
Nightmare Alley
4. Stanton and Zeena
 
Nightmare Alley
5. Zeena in her fortune telling costume with Egyptian themes
 
Nightmare Alley
6. Molly in her "Electric Chair"
 
Nightmare Alley
7. Stanton holding up a silver dollar
 
Stanton uses the voice code to tell blindfolded Zeena what is in his hand.
It appears to be a Peace type, made from 1921 to 1935.
 
Nightmare Alley
8. Lilith and Stanton planning something
 
Nightmare Alley
9. Stanton discovers the money switch
 
The bills appear to be the standard film prop paper money,
copied from Mexican Revolutionary state notes
 
Nightmare Alley
10. Stanton, now a drifter or hobo, gives a "cold reading"
 
Nightmare Alley
11. Stanton gets a job offer at his old carnival
 
I might have a job you can take a crack at.
Course it isn't much and I'm not begging you to take it, but it's a job.
Bottle every day, place to sleep it off in.
What do you say?
Anyway, it's only temporary, just until we can get a real geek.
You know what a geek is, don't you?
Do you think you can handle it?
 
Mister, I was made for it.
Notes:
 
Cast:
Tyrone Power as Stanton 'Stan' Carlisle
Joan Blondell as Zeena Krumbein
Coleen Gray as Molly
Helen Walker as Lilith Ritter
Taylor Holmes as Ezra Grindle
 
Director: Edmund Goulding
Writers: Jules Furthman, William Lindsay Gresham (novel)
Prev Back Next