The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Nightmare Alley Photoplay

Just picked up a beautiful photoplay of William Lindsay Gresham's Nightmare Alley from Triangle books, 1948.


"Photoplay" is a collector's term for a movie edition of a book. They usually include one or more photos from the film (or stage play) or posed shots of the actors. The cover is usually based on a scene from the film with painted or photographed images of the actors (I suppose there's a point when movie editions cease being considered "photoplays" but go ahead and call that paperback of Hostel: Part II a photoplay. You'll really class it up).

Anyway Nightmare Alley is a fantastic noir that goes from the Carny Geek world, to a Fifth Avenue Penthouse, and back again. It's a cult work in all of its forms--novel, film, comic--and this Triangle edition is about the best version of the book I've seen. It's got a wraparound, photo-montage cover, with images from a carnival and a fake mentalist show. The spine has a woman in a corset and stocking sitting in an electric chair and each chapter head starts with a tarot card. You don't get much cooler than that.

Also pictured is a Triangle James M. Cain omnibus. Triangle titles are usually pretty crappy, budget affairs but these two are definite winners.

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