Who gets fooled in Nightmare Alley?
From an excellent film noir you must see if you’re interested in deception. You won’t forget the rise and bitter fall of the ambitious Mr. Stanton Carlisle – psychic, mentalist and con artist. This clip shows how carnival psychic Zeena deceives the rubes with a simple magic trick and lots of theatrics.
The mechanical part of the trick is easy – it’s a simple switch. If we were in the audience, we might think that the theatrical part is overdone or corny, but what makes it work is the willingness of the audience to want to believe.
Similar deceptions occur today, even with sophisticated audiences.
The 1947 movie Nightmare Alley starred Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell and Coleen Gray. It was based on the novel by author and magician William Lindsay Gresham, who also wrote the highly informative and entertaining Monster Midway: An Uninhibited Look at the Glittering World of the Carny (1954.)