The Amazing Mr. X
DIRECTOR: Bernard Vorhaus
STARRING: Turhan Bey, Lynn Bari, Cathy O’Donnell
First released in 1948, The Amazing Mr. X is a public domain film notable for being considered a bit ridiculous even in its time. This makes it a perfect first choice for a new long-running series, where i’ll be providing a contemporary commentary on top. As a side note, this film is also known as The Spiritualist.
Two years after her husband’s death, Christine Faber (Lynn Bari) thinks she hears her late husband (Donald Curtis) calling out of the surf on the beach one night. She meets a tall dark man named Alexis (Turhan Bey) who seems to know all about her.
After more ghostly manifestations, Christine and her younger sister (Cathy O’Donnell) become enmeshed in the strange life of Alexis; but he in turn finds himself manipulated into deeper devilry than he had in mind.
Personally, I actually really enjoyed this film. While its writing is astronomically bad, and some of its acting worse, it grips you in successfully. However, that might just be because you have to know where the unpredictable mess is going to end up. Its plot is so absolutely insane that you kind of spill over and just go with it. Plus, it passes Mark Kermode’s “six laugh” test for being a good comedy, whether it was intentional or not. Turhan Bey is bloody excellent in the central role of Alexis, and I sincerely hope that there’s more of him to come in public domain movies.
Despite its madness, The Amazing Mr. X did recieve some acclaim for its lighting. For this reason, as well as Bey’s acting and the general excitement of the thing, it probably holds some historic appeal. It certainly does look pretty nice for its time. From my perspective, however, it’s hard to take any of it seriously when a crow can steal the show so easily. It was an interesting way to start out a new feature, but I can’t wait to see how deep this rabbit hole goes…