I thought Nightmare Alley was great. I finally saw the movie a few
months ago and liked it a lot, too, although ending is slightly different.
Also really liked Thieves Like Us and watched They Live By Night (first
adaptation) just a couple of weeks ago. I would say it is a quite
typical American film noir--very good. I was disappointed in the
character of Keechie. In the book, she's fourteen, I think, and much
more level-headed and mature than Bowie. In the movie, she's at least
sixteen (maybe for censorship reasons?) and just kind of flat. The film
leaves out all the illusions to the "little war" and Bowie never calls
Keechie "little soldier." The ending isn't quite the same either. Still
worth watching for the cinematography as well as the story.
I recently read a biography of Houdini (Houdini: The Untold Story, by
Milbourne Christopher), who started off doing a mind-reading act very
much like the one in Nightmare Alley and spent a good part of his life
debunking spirit communications and revealing the techniques used by
bogus mediums and psychics. Gresham was credited in the bibliography, as
he also wrote a book about Houdini published in 1959. I can't find the
reference in the archives, but it seems to me someone said Gresham got
all his inside dope on carnival acts from interviewing a carny he met
somewhere. Anyway, I started to wonder whether he got interested in
Houdini after writing Nightmare Alley, or whether he possibly started
researching Houdini while writing or even before.
On 02/03/2009 2:31 PM, Mark Sullivan wrote:
> I read Nightmare Alley after many raves here from the late, lamented miker (who also led me to Thieves Like Us). Blew me away, too. Keep meaning to check out the movie.
> But I don't think I'd place it as my best noir novel. Don't know if I'd stick with this if I really thought about it, but the title that popped into my head was Pop. 1280 by Thompson.
>> To: email@example.com
>> From: firstname.lastname@example.org
>> Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2009 11:18:37 -0800
>> Subject: RE: RARA-AVIS: Best noir novel (was Red Right Hand)
>> Just wondering what people consider the "best" single noir novel. I know there's no one answer, but curious about the responses. Has everybody but me read NIGHTMARE ALLEY by William Lindsay Gresham? I'm halfway thru it and it knocks my socks off.
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