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directed by Edmund Goulding
USA 1947

"When GEEK had a very different meaning"

 

Often described as the grimmest of all Hollywood film noirs, Nightmare Alley's reputation as a cult classic reached near-mythical status due to a decades-long dispute between the film's producer (George Jessel) and Fox, which prevented it being screened anywhere or even released on home video. With the conflict now resolved, Nightmare Alley can finally be re-discovered in this stunning new transfer as one of the most darkly sophisticated noirs of the period.

Tyrone Power, cast against type — at his own insistence — gives the performance of his lifetime as handsome scumbag / carnival barker / con-man Stanton Carlisle. He seduces fellow sideshow artiste Mademoiselle Zeena (Joan Blondell) to learn the secret of the once-lucrative mind-reading act she performed with her alcoholic husband (Ian Keith). Carlisle, a "born mentalist", secures the secret method and sets off with his new carnie wife, Molly (Coleen Grey) to milk the bigtime as a spiritualist in Chicago. As Carlisle's success grows, it's only a matter of time before his greed — and twisted involvement with femme fatale psychoanalyst Lilith Ritter (Helen Walker) — bring his world crashing down around him.

Based on William Lindsay Gresham's book of the same name, scripted by the formidable Jules Furthman (Shanghai Express, To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, Rio Bravo) and reflecting the preoccupations of its drug and alcohol-abusing, orgy-frequenting director Edmund Goulding, Nightmare Alley uncovers both the dirt and romance of carnival life, and controversially — for those in the business — the tricks and scams of conmen and hustlers. After this picaresque and cathartic film, you will never again misuse the word "geek".

 

Posters

 

Theatrical Release: October 9th, 1947

Reviews    More Reviews    DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC

(20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC RIGHT)

DVD Box Cover

   

Distribution

20th Century Fox Home Video

Region 1 - NTSC

Eureka (Masters of Cinema #19)

Region 2 - NTSC

Runtime 1:51:16  1:51:40 
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.97 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.75 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate: Fox

Bitrate: Eureka

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 1.0)   English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles English, Spanish, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary by film historians James Ursini and Alain Silver
• Theatrical trailer 

DVD Release Date: April 5th, 2005

Keep Case
Chapters: 20

Release Information:
Studio: Eureka Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Woody Haut introduces Nightmare Alley - a 10-minute video introduction to the film by celebrated noir historian and author Woody Haut
• Woody Haut on Nightmare Alley - Woody goes into more detail (25 minutes)
• Full-length audio commentary by film historians Alain Silver and James Ursini
• Theatrical trailer
• 157-page continuity and dialogue script and the 17-page musical cue sheet (both in pdf format)
• 32-page booklet with a new essay by Woody Haut, and rare production stills

DVD Release Date: November 14th, 2005

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 20

 

Comments:

ADDITION: Eureka - Region 2- NTSC - November 05' - The new Eureka DVD appears to have used the same master as Fox as the transfers are almost identical. The slight scratches and damage marks are duplicated on both releases. I have stared enough at these images and although there may be minute encoding differences for our purposes they are identical in the image department. They also both have the same excellent commentary track by Ursini and Silver. Aside from the cover and menus the notable differences are:

1) The Eureka extra features are far more advanced with the Woody Haut intro and his fabulous background comments (to be seen after viewing the film!). Plus the 32-page booklet which is marvelously bound and great reading. Tack onto that the 157-page continuity and dialogue script and the 17-page musical cue sheet (both in PDF format) in the root of the DVD - accessible via a computer DVD drive.

2) The Fox offers a mono and stereo track where the Eureka has only the 2.0.

3) Both have removable English subtitles but the Eureka are a more visually pleasing off-white with a black border font. The Fox are a ghastly, intrusive yellow.

As I am overly enamored with this classic film I can state that # 1 is the most significant reason to upgrade to this Eureka DVD if you are capable, but I am a big fan of subtitles too and # 3 would be reason enough for me. The packaging, menus and booklet all have the stamp of Masters of Cinema quality that we have come to recognize as top-of-the-line DVD production regardless of geographic location. I am so pleased they exist and are bringing us such incredible cinema. DVDBeaver intends to support their efforts as enthusiastically as we can in the future. We suggest that you do the same. 

*****

A lot of damage and scratches very early on - it plateaus to still have many hairline scratches visible. There is sharpness and some dirty grain (digital noise?) showing through. Contrast does fluctuate a bit and at times the image can look a shade saturated. With all those complaints I still say it is a strong image and does not hinder any viewing enjoyment. Worst that we can say is that it is not 100% pristine, but as good as we are likely to get. The commentary is interesting, and as intriguing as the House of Bamboo one (by the same team of Ursinsi and Silver) - very enjoyable. Subtitles are an awful yellow and why Fox sticks with this I'll never understand. This has all the ear marks of a decent effort, and at least it is available at a very reasonable priced. out of     

Gary W. Tooze

 





DVD Menus

(20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC RIGHT)


 

 


Subtitle Sample

 

(20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

NOTE: Not exact frame...

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

(20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC BOTTOM)
 

 


(20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC BOTTOM)
 

 


(20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC BOTTOM)
 

 

 


(20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC BOTTOM)
 

 


Report Card:

 

Image:

Tie

Sound:

Fox

Extras: Eureka
Menu: Eureka

 

 


 

Recommended Reading in Film Noir (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

 

 

Check out more in "The Library"

 

DVD Box Cover

   

Distribution

20th Century Fox Home Video

Region 1 - NTSC

Eureka (Masters of Cinema #19)

Region 2 - NTSC





 

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