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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

THE AMAZING MR. X (1948) -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

 


I'll admit, I had my initial doubts that THE AMAZING MR. X (The Film Detective, 1948) was going to be all that amazing, judging from the pics that made it look like some kind of faux-supernatural romance fantasy with a few mildly Gothic touches.  

It didn't take long for director Bernard Vorhau (whose filmography contains several interesting-sounding films that I've never seen) and original story author Crane Wilbur (who wrote and directed the wonderfully hokey potboiler THE BAT) to dispel such notions.

Right off the bat, we find wealthy, still-grieving widow Christine (Lynn Bari, FRANCIS JOINS THE WACS, ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET THE KEYSTONE KOPS) rising from her bed in the dead of night and wafting onto the dizzying balcony of her mansion overlooking the ocean because she hears her dead husband Paul croaking her name from the great beyond.

 



This claim is met with skepticism by her ardent suitor Martin (Richard Carlson, CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE), who doesn't want to compete with a ghost for Christine's affections, and her kid sister Janet (Cathy O'Donnell, BEN HUR, THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES), who fancies herself more sensible and mature than her older sister.

Again right off the bat, this movie pulls us down into a dark sea of scintillating mystery and spooky atmosphere photographed in rich, gloomy black and white that's often quite beautiful.

That sheer cliff looming over the constantly rushing waves, along with stunning interiors of vast, ornate rooms strewn with shadows, makes for some exquisite production design which gives it all a noirish and at times dreamily indistinct quality. 

 



Being in such a suggestible state makes Christine easy game for supposed psychic Mr. Alexis (Turhan Bey, THE MUMMY'S TOMB, THE MAD GHOUL) who promises to pierce the veil of the spirit world and put her in contact with Paul. But is he for real, or just a slick, money-grubbing phony?

Bey is just right as the handsome and very smooth Mr. Alexis, who pretty much had me convinced from their first nocturnal meeting on the beach.   We then follow the investigation as a more logical-minded Martin hires a private detective to dig up dirt on "Mr. X." Even Janet does some undercover work as a prospective client but ends up taken in by the apparent huckster herself, finding him not only intriguing but also quite exotic.

What follows is a dizzying journey into the world of creepy seances, ghostly visitations, and other fever-dream stuff that's a pleasure to watch as the plot's various secrets slowly unravel themselves in satisfying fashion.


 

 

 The two female leads are fine, especially the very young Cathy O'Donnell. Richard Carlson does the "mundane guy" routine to a tee. Also on hand is prolific character actress Virginia Gregg who would later enjoy a lead role in OPERATION PETTICOAT and turn up in the original DRAGNET movie as well. Donald Curtis appears as the apparition of dead but not quite gone Paul.

The Blu-ray from The Film Detective gives us a new 4K transfer restored from original 35mm film elements, the result being a treat for those who appreciate good old black and white photography. Special features consist of audio commentary from professor and film scholar Jason A. Ney, the original documentary "Mysteries Exposed: Inside the Cinematic World of Spiritualism", and a full color booklet with the essay "The Amazing Mr. Bey" by Don Stradley.

A very pleasant, and very spooky, surprise, THE AMAZING MR. X emerges from its seeming cinematic obscurity (for me, anyway) to offer lovers of old-fashioned supernatural thrillers a heady experience that's so deliciously dark and moody that it's almost immersively atmospheric.







 

Buy it at Amazon.com



Media Format ‏ : ‎ Anamorphic, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 18 minutes
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Release date ‏ : ‎ October 26, 2021
Actors ‏ : ‎ Turhan Bey, Lynn Bari, Cathy O'Donnell
Studio ‏ : ‎ Film Detective
ASIN ‏ : ‎ B096WNY182
Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA 





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