I have a fascination with carnivals and circuses. Many filmmakers have as well Fellini, Bergman both made films set in the circus. So when I first read about this long forgotten film noir gem, I was hooked by the combination of a dark seedy crime story set in the carnival world. Surprisingly what I got was more than that — a thoughtful drama on the psychic con game.
Stanton Carlisle (Tyrone Power, THE MARK OF ZORRO) is a streetwise hustler who finds a home working as the talker at a carnival. He warms the crowd for low rent psychic Zeena Krumbein (Joan Blondell, A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN), who use to be in the big time until her partner/husband Pete (Ian Keith, QUEEN CHRISTINA) became lost in the bottle. Zeena and Pete's legendary act was based on an intricate code, which allowed one person in the crowd to hold up objects obtained from the spectators and relate covertly what they were to the blindfolded "psychic" on stage. The code is worth a fortune and Stanton works his charms on Zeena to learn it. Now with the code, Stanton teams with the beautiful carnie girl Molly (Coleen Gray, RED RIVER) to go legit on the nightclub scene. But as his career skyrockets, Stanton gets greedy and hooks up with the cool and beautiful psychiatrist Lilith Ritter (Helen Walker, CALL NORTHSIDE 777) to turn his mentalist act into a medium.