Amazing Mr. X
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A rich young widow longs to establish contact with her deceased husband, who perished in a car crash several years earlier. However, a cunning medium (The Mad Ghoul's Turhan Bey) has other plans in mind in this gothic suspense noir, awash with mystery, breathtaking suspense and classic thrill sequences as the half-drugged widow is led across the top of the cliff. Beautifully produced, photographed and scored, this is a film not to be missed!
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Top Customer Reviews
twisting plot. A widowed wealthy and rather pretty women is just coming out of her period of grief. She has a new boyfriend , but is haunted by
her past and yearns for her dead husband. Inserted into her life comes a mystic , who comes complete with his own pet raven! Is he a fake or the real thing. He certainly knows a lot of what is going on in her life , and impresses her. Her sister is suspicious and ties to entrap him , but rather comes away from her visit with him with a reversed opinion of him and in a state of awe. The boyfriend , and the cops he consult are the logical types , and pursue his downfall and arrest. Are people coming back from the dead ? Is the mystic a good guy or bad guy , or perhaps both?
Excellent , moody time waster.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Thanks to the taut direction of Bernard Vorhaus (who would emigrate to England and retire in 1953 after being blacklisted by Hollywood); across the board fine acting (including Cathy O'Donnell, who earlier was blacklisted by Samuel Goldwyn after marrying the brother of William Wyler, with whom he was feuding); and especially the moody cinematography of John Alton (who would win an Academy Award for Color Cinematography for AN AMERICAN IN PARIS,) this low-budget thriller, THE AMAZING MR X, is rather amazing, indeed.
I scribbled "should have been Peter Lorre" during Turhan Bey's first scene. Bey plays the Spiritualist - a vaguely sinister, vaguely continental rogue who, most of the time, shares the frame with his big, black, pet raven. Your typical Lorre role. So it was with some trepidation that I left the very entertaining early scene that chronicled Bey and widow Lynn Bari's initial encounter. These movies almost always stumble somewhere - a `humorous' character who isn't funny, and/or a threatening character who, unfortunately, is.
Bey, who I've never seen before, is perfectly cast. He may not be as skilled an actor, but even someone as prodigiously talented as Lorre would have had a hard time playing a romantic character. With the movie forcing little sister O'Connell to gush some tough puppy love at the Spiritualist, with the handsome Bey in the lead role credibility is maintained. Talented or not, Lorre was severely appearance challenged.
Alton lit and framed it wonderfully - in fact, the whole movie looks great - but there was still that threat posed by the cover art. A turbaned, apple-cheeked Bey grinning mischievously over an illuminated crystal ball. THE AMAZING MR X had `schlock' written all over it. Loud schlock, at that. But this movie is much subtler than its promotional material, or unfortunate title, would lead you to think. It's a fine mystery/thriller, supremely entertaining and even a little thought provoking. This IS that hidden gem fans of old movies are constantly on the lookout for.
THE AMAZING MR X is a virtually flawless movie. Whether flooding blinding light through the Spiritualist's front door or pulling the ceiling into the frame to create a sense of maddening claustrophobia in the young widow's home, the cinematography is brilliant (NB - the transfer print is a little washed out but watchable.) The story is engagingly told and even provides a genuine thrill or two. Overall the acting is competent, Bari is quite good as the haunted widower, and Bey is a real find as the smooth charlatan.
Christine's younger sister (Cathy O'Donnell) and Christine's would-be new paramour thinks that the meeting with Alexis was too fortuitous, and they suspect that perhaps he is part of a scam to defraud the emotionally frail Christine of her inheritance. They secure the services of a magician turned private eye who specializes in debuniking phoney mediums and set about to expose Alexis for the fraud he is. However, the haunting continues to grow in intensity. Can it be that Christine's departed husband really is reaching out from beyond and attempting to pull her into a watery grave along side him?
This 1948 B-movie is an excellently made thriller. It is well acted, well filmed, moves briskly, and keeps the viewer engaged with clever plot-twists and a couple of nicely done double-reversals of expectations. There are films with perhas ten times the budget of "The Amazing Mr. X" that aren't half as successful at telling the kind of story that this film features--which, I admit, was pretty well-worn even in 1948. That said, modern filmmakers trying their hands at thrillers with supernatural overtones would do well to study this work, as it shows exactly how that kind of film is made.
Don't let the cheesy title fool you. This is a top-notch thriller that's well worth a look by any lover of the genre.
Christine Faber (Lynn Bari), a rich, beautiful widow who lives in a mansion high on a cliff overlooking the Pacific surf, is a widow of two years still grieving over the death of her husband, whose body was never found. Her younger sister (Cathy O'Donnell) is worried about her and her good friend, (Richard Carlson), who wants to be more than a friend, thinks somehow she has to start living her own life. Then Christine learns of a medium, Alexis (Turhan Bey), the mysterious Mr. X, who has moved near by. Alexis is supposed to do wonders in bringing back the dead, and he seems able to bring up the spirit of Christine's husband at seances for her. But Christine also hears strange, familiar music late at night in her mansion. The french doors leading to the cliffs mysteriously open. She begins to hear the voice of her dead husband when she's trying to sleep, speaking lovingly to her and urging her to join him on the cliffs.
This movie may be one of the thousands of B movies Hollywood cranked out during the Forties, but it is competently made and moves ahead briskly. There is a twist about two-thirds of the way through that might surprise you. And the climax, a struggle in the dank, dark cellars of the mansion, is very well handled.
Joan Crawford might have been Hollywood's Queen Bee, but Lynn Bari was undoubtedly the queen of the Bs. She was a classy looking woman with a great, rich voice who could handle comedy or mystery, evil or good, with competence. And while probably few people remember Turhan Bey, for a few years he was Hollywood's favorite exotic leading men. That might not be saying a lot, but he made a reasonably successful career of it for a while.
But be warned; the DVD picture is watchable but nothing more.
"The Spiritualist" is a 1948 thriller-noir film released by Eagle-Lion Films and directed by Bernard Vorhaus, with exquisite cinematography by film and lighting master John Alton. For those unfamiliar with the title, they may recall seeing this little "B" gem under its rerelease title "The Amazing Mr. X". The story tells of a phony spiritualist who preys upon a widow still grieving after two years the loss of her concert pianist husband. The film, Alton's favorite of all his works, is featured prominently in his book on cinematography, "Painting with Light".
The film stars Turhan Bey, Lynn Bari, Cathy O'Donnell, and Richard Carlson. (As other posts under the public domain title "The Amazing Mr. X" reveal, actress Carole Landis was originally hired by producer Benjamin Stoloff and director Vorhous to play the lead female role, but Landis committed suicide a few days before shooting began. The part was eventually given to Bari.)
Unfortunately, this little-known classic has languished in public domain-hell for many years, available only on VHS and DVD from abysmally inferior prints, marring the craftsmanship of cinematographer Alton. My efforts to find the consummate version always failed to live up to my hopes and expectations. This release, by SONY in the DVD-R format and under the film's original title, finally restores this film to its proper status as a true contender among the film noir classics. A deeply atmospheric film, "The Spiritualist" is steeped in dark and brooding effects, and for the first time since its initial release the viewer will be able to enjoy the full range of its cinematic beauty. I am very grateful to SONY for providing us longtime fans of the film such a beautiful print. Mastered from archival 35mm material, I doubt anyone but the harshest of critics will complain about this release. Wonderful quality! I recommend this release to ALL.
Widowed Christine Faber (Lynn Bari) is ready to move on from her pianist husband Paul's death and marry Martin Abbott (Richard Carlson), until, during a stroll along the beach, she hears the ghostly voice of Paul calling out to her. By strange coincidence, psychic medium Alexis (Turhan Bey) is also out walking that same night, and urges Christine to visit his house. Pretty soon, Christine is a regular visitor to Alexis' mansion, which is crammed with two-way mirrors, trick lighting and hidden speaker-boxes; so much so that Christine's kid sister Janet (Cathy O'Donnell) and Martin decide to do a little investigating themselves...
Lynn Bari is one of my favourite "B" ladies. She could play anything from a wisecracking reporter in SLEEPERS WEST, a 1920s housewife in HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY GAL?, to the spurned "other woman" in ORCHESTRA WIVES. Here in MR. X., she plays a role that might have easily gone to Joan Crawford had the picture been made by a bigger studio; although the best scenes go to Cathy O'Donnell and Turhan Bey. Heck, even when she was the top-billed star, Lynn Bari still couldn't land a break! Oh well.
THE AMAZING MR. X. is another B-movie that fell into Public Domain oblivion years ago. The best print is the one available from Image Entertainment/Wade Williams, and whilst it's far from perfect, it's probably the best we'll get. Recommended.