NIGHTMARE ALLEY
1948, 20th Century Fox, 110 min, USA, Dir: Edmund Goulding

An ambitious carnival barker (Tyrone Power) moves from a mind-reading act with carny veteran Zeena (Joan Blondell) to performing the same act in an upscale nightclub with his new, ex-carny wife (Coleen Gray). He consequently becomes involved in scamming a wealthy man with the help of a duplicitous psychiatrist (Helen Walker). Widely regarded today as a classic noir thriller, NIGHTMARE ALLEY was Power's own project and gave the actor his best role. He was up to the task, delivering the greatest performance of his career. Unfortunately, his boss, Darryl F. Zanuck, panicked when he saw the leading man he had so carefully made into a superstar playing a low-life. He gave the film no publicity, never pushed the film or actors for any awards and quickly withdrew it from circulation. The film was ahead of its time – its grit and cynicism are perfect for today's audience.


SHANGHAI EXPRESS
1932, Universal, 80 min, USA, Dir: Josef Von Sternberg

“It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily.” Fallen woman Marlene Dietrich just happens to run into her former boyfriend, British army captain Clive Brook, on a train hurtling through wartime China, in what many consider the high point of the Dietrich/Von Sternberg cycle. Along for the ride are some of Hollywood’s greatest supporting players of the day: lovely Anna May Wong, bullfrog-voiced Eugene Pallette and Warner Oland (doing a sinister spin on his Far East Charlie Chan persona).


MOROCCO
1930, Universal, 91 min, USA, Dir: Josef Von Sternberg

“You’d better go now, I’m beginning to like you,” purrs cabaret singer Marlene Dietrich to cocky young soldier boy Gary Cooper. If you’re going to see just one Foreign Legion movie, make it MOROCCO: Dietrich (in her first American film appearance) and Cooper are downright gorgeous, and Von Sternberg transforms the two-bit cantinas and barracks of Mogador into a splendid landscape of light & shadow.


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