The Amazing Mr. X
THE AMAZING MR. X
aka, THE SPIRITUALIST. 1948

Director: Bernard Vorhaus

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



The Amazing Mr. XA gothic house on a cliff overlooking the haunted shore attracts Alexis, Psychic Consultant, to the aid of a young widow, Christine (Lynn Bari) who is being haunted by the ghost of the husband (Donald Curtis) for whom she still grieves.

There is nobody known as Mr. X in the story but it's my guess the reference is to Alexis, played by Turhan Bey, though I suppose Mr. X could be someone pretending to be the ghost of the heroine's dead husband. Bey is in most films so reliably cast as an exotic villain that for some while it is difficult to believe he might not be the villain of The Amazing Mr. X.

He's certainly a rogue with a self-serving plan, but his posturing as a Romantic with mysterious powers is something he just about buys into himself.

Alexis clearly wants to live up to higher expectations, & a lot of the tension of the film comes from Alexis's conflicted nature rather than the widow's danger. Will he will he not turn decide to do what is right rather than what is profitable?

The Amazing Mr. XEven when he seems his nastiest, he has this well-trained totally cool pet crow, & nobody with a crow like that can be all bad. One thing is certain, the simplistic story & the rest of the cast is not what makes this film such fun. It is the opportunity to see Turhan Bey as something more complex than simply a bad guy.

His fine performance is assisted by pleasing b/w photography of an atmospheric sort, by master cinematographer John Alton, author of one of the most important books on cinematography, Painting with Light (1949), & the man behind the camera for Anthony Mann's film noirs & the ultimate extreme noir The Big Combo (1955).

Secondarily, Lynn Bari as a the Gothic heroine being driven out of her mind does a more than adequate job; her situtation gets legitimately spooky at times.

The Amazing Mr. X has a lot in its favor. It will reward both a superficial viewing for entertainment value, & a student viewing for deeper understanding of symbolism through light & shadow.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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