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Starring: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, David Strathairn
OUR RATING: ★★★☆☆
Period psychological thriller directed and co-written by Guillermo del Toro. Nightmare Alley (2021) centers on Stanton ‘Stan’ Carlisle (Bradley Cooper), an ambitious carny with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words, who teams up with Dr. Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett), a psychiatrist who is even more dangerous than he is.
Our Favorite Quotes:'You don't fool people. They fool themselves.' - Dr. Lilith Ritter (Nightmare Alley) Click To Tweet
Bruno: [to Stanton] What’s your pitch, pal? You on the level? You need work?
Clem Hoatley: [after he’s caged the man] Step right up and behold, one of the unexplained mysteries of the universe. Is he man or beast?
Geek: I’m not like this.
Clem Hoatley: Folks will pay good money just to make themselves feel better.
Clem Hoatley: [to Stanton] Would a steady job be of interest to you, young buck? Folks here, they don’t make no never mind who you are, or what you done.
Zeena the Seer: Say, maybe you can hawk for me. You know, work the audience. We got a little mind reading show.
Stanton Carlisle: What would I have to do?
Zeena the Seer: Ain’t nothing to it. Carny speak’s like a song. We sound Southern to Southerners, and Western to Westerners. You got a sweet little lilt. Just got to lean on it. Talk of the soil. You drawl slow, but all the while, you’re hustling fast. Yeah, you can peddle for me. And on your down time, maybe Pete can show you a trick or two. You’re going to do just fine, honey. You got panache.
Zeena the Seer: Oh, you’re trouble, ain’t you, pup?
Stanton Carlisle: No, ma’am. I’m absolutely no trouble at all.
Zeena the Seer: Oh, yes, you are. Yes, you are. You’re a “maybe”. And “maybes”, they’re real bad for me.
Zeena the Seer: People always ask me if I have spirit aid. Well, folks, the only spirits I control are the ones in this bottle. The spirits of alcohol.
Pete: You never do a spook show. No good comes out of a spook show.
Stanton Carlisle: Is it so bad to give her hope?
Pete: It ain’t hope if it’s a lie, Stan.
'People are desperate to tell you who they are. Desperate to be seen.' - Pete (Nightmare Alley) Click To Tweet
Pete: People are desperate to tell you who they are. Desperate to be seen.
Zeena the Seer: Ain’t that the truth.
Clem Hoatley: [as he takes a drink] Christ almighty, throat’s sore as a bull’s a** in fly time.
Clem Hoatley: [to Stanton] Toe the line, don’t f*** with me. That’s the lesson.
Stanton Carlisle: Hey, Pete. I’d love to learn anything that you’d want to teach me.
Pete: Teach you?
Stanton Carlisle: I understand if you don’t want to give away your secrets.
Pete: No. It’s not that, my boy. It’s, well, it’s just that it’s been some time since anybody’s asked me to teach them anything.
Molly Cahill: You do know this is the Ragtag Opera, right? Nothing’s really the best of anything around here.
Stanton Carlisle: Well, you’re better than this place.
Molly Cahill: Maybe you think I’m special, but I’m not.
Stanton Carlisle: Well, maybe I see something in you you don’t see.
The thing you need to know is, if you displease the right people, the world closes in on you very, very fast.' - Dr. Lilith Ritter (Nightmare Alley) Click To Tweet
Molly Cahill: Maybe all this is good enough for me.
Stanton Carlisle: I don’t believe you. If it’s not good enough for me, it sure ain’t good enough for you.
Bruno: [to Stanton] You been bumping gums with Molly a little too often. Just so happens I knew her old man. I knew him really good. Old-time grifter. My guess, he wouldn’t have liked you at all. I promised him I’d take care of the girl, and I’m going to. I still got five good pounds of meat and bone right here. Hurt that girl, you get them all.
Molly Cahill: You’re dreaming.
Stanton Carlisle: No, Molly. You’re bigger than this place. If you let me, I want to give you the world and everything in it.
Clem Hoatley: [to Stanton] You heard? That little Kraut, the one that looks like Chaplin, he just invaded Poland! The balls on him.
'It ain't hope if it's a lie.' - Pete (Nightmare Alley) Click To Tweet
Clem Hoatley: [referring to the wounded geek] I said leave him be!
Stanton Carlisle: Can’t leave him in the rain.
Clem Hoatley: Don’t pretend you give a s**t with me!
Stanton Carlisle: How do you ever get a guy to geek?
Clem Hoatley: Oh, I ain’t going to crap you up. It ain’t easy. You got to pick up a broken drunk. A real alkie, a two bottle a day fool, see?
Stanton Carlisle: Pick him up from where?
Clem Hoatley: Nightmare alleys, train tracks, flophouses, you name it. Lot of folks came back from the war addicted to the poppy, to booze. Now, opium really sinks its claws, but you reel them in with booze. You tell them, “I got a little job for you. It’s a temporary job.” Make sure you emphasize that. “Just temporary, until we get ourselves another geek.” You spike it with that opium tincture. One drop per bottle, that’s all. But, oh, oh, now, this is whathe thinks is heaven.
Pete: You know, if you’re good at reading people, it’s mostly because you learned as a child, trying to stay one step ahead of whatever tormented you. Now, if they really did a number on you, then that crack, it’s a hollow. And there’ll never be enough. There’s no filling that in.
Pete: When a man believes his own lies, starts believing that he has the power, he’s got shuteye. Because now he believes it’s all true. And people get hurt. Good, God-fearing people. And then you lie. You lie. And when the lies end, there it is. The face of God, staring at you straight. No matter where you turn. No man can outrun God, Stan.
Funhouse Jack: Sin and salvation. Heaven and Hell. Find out what it feels like right here on Earth. Let the mirrors show you who you are and who you shall be.
'When a man believes his own lies, starts believing that he has the power, he's got shuteye. Because now he believes it's all true. And people get hurt.' - Pete (Nightmare Alley) Click To Tweet
Sheriff Jedediah Judd: I am closing you down. I ain’t none of your thieving southern police kissing a priest’s toe on Sundays and raking in graft six days a week.
Stanton Carlisle: You know what’s funny? Pete used to always say, “It’s not the clothes, but the shoes that could tell you everything you need to know about a man.”
Molly Cahill: I’m ready, Stan.
Stanton Carlisle: Ready for what?
Molly Cahill: To leave all this behind, go with you.
Stanton Carlisle: We are ready, aren’t we?
Stanton Carlisle: My whole life I’ve been looking for something, something that I’m good at. And I think I found it, Molly. I think I’m ready.
Molly Cahill: I know you are, Stan.
'Sometimes you don't see the line until you cross it.' - Stanton Carlisle (Nightmare Alley) Click To Tweet
Stanton Carlisle: You ready?
Molly Cahill: Ready for what?
Stanton Carlisle: The world and everything in it, rabbit.
Dr. Lilith Ritter: You say you’re genuine, and I say you use verbal signals of some sort to communicate between the two of you.
Stanton Carlisle: There are no tricks involved, madam. There’s no deception whatsoever.
Dr. Lilith Ritter: Then answer me. What is inside the bag?
Stanton Carlisle: The usual’s inside that bag. Lipstick, a handkerchief.
Dr. Lilith Ritter: Oh, well, that is easy enough, is it not?