THE AMAZING MR. X (1948)
A.K.A THE SPIRITUALIST
Label: The Film Detective
Region Code: Region-Free
Duration: 78 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Dual-Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Full Frame (1.33:1)
Director: Bernard Vorhaus
Cast: Turhan Bey, Lynn Bari, Cathy O'Donnell
From Out of the Surf It Came ... A Familiar Voice ... A Voice That Belonged to the Afterlife!
The Amazing Mr. X stars Turhan Bey (The Mummy's Tomb) as a crooked spiritualist medium named Alexis, a man who claims to have the power to communicate with spirits from beyond the grave. He appears one night on a lonely stretch of beach, accompanied by the sounds of a laughing crow, and charms depressed widow Christine (Lynn Bari, Abbot Costello Meet the Keystone Kops), whose husband Paul (Donald Curtis, It Came from Beneath the Sea) died two year previously in a car accident. She now has a new beau who wants very much to marry her, Richard Carlson (The Valley of Gwangi), but she is still very much in love with her late husband, and often hears his voice calling her name as she overlooks the ocean waves from the veranda of her cliffside mansion.
When her younger sister Janet (Cathy O'Donnell, The World Dies Screaming) and Richard find out she has begun frequenting the séance parlor of Alexis they assume, and rightfully so, that he's a scam artist looking to milk her for her fortune. Eventually Janet visits him under false pretenses, but she becomes quite smitten with the charming mystic and lays her worry aside. The clear-eyed Richard however is less willing to do so and sets out to expose the medium for a fraud.
As the melancholy thriller unfolds a murder plot is revealed with the medium being roped into it by a sinister outside element that presents itself in an unexpected way. Alexis, already established to be a charlatan with many clever parlor tricks to pull off his supernatural conjurings, is never quite made to be an unrepentant villain, and is portrayed quite romantically, and he even gets a bit of bitter redemption there at the end. Lynn Bari is quite good in her role as tormented widow, she comes across as haunted from the get-go and only spirals deeper into that darkness as the story continues. Cathy O'Donnell as the smitten younger sister is a sparkplug, and then we have Richard Carlson as the stand-up love interest for Christine, with another nice addition being Det. Hoffman, a former magician turned cop who has a real chip on his shoulder to expose the Svengali medium as a fraud.
The stylish off-kilter cinematography from John Alton (The Big Combo) offers striking angles and deep shadows, that combined with deft direction by Bernard Vorhaus (Bury Me Dead) delivers a truly suspense filled and sinister flick with a melancholic vibe that makes this a gem of a supernatural leaning thriller. If you're a fan of the expressive atmospheric
thrillers of producer Val Lewton (Curse of the Cat People, The Seventh Victim) I think you're gonna love this one, definitely check it out.
Audio/Video: The Amazing Mr. X arrives on region-free Blu-ray from The Film Detective in 1080p HD in 1.33:1 full frame with a handsome 4K restoration from original 35mm film elements. It's a gorgeous film with gauzy, dreamlike cinematography from John Alton (The Big Combo) that adds a dreamy layer to the noir visuals. However, the image on the Blu-ray is a tad soft with anemic black levels and weak contrast on top of that. Not sure of this is a source related with baked in issues, but there's also a few scenes that are snowy with digital noise as well. Not the strongest 1080p image you will ever see but it is serviceable, and far superior to previous DVDs, but definitely the least of the The Films Detective restoration Blu-rays I have see to date.
Audio comes by way of both uncompressed English DTS-HD MA 2.0 dual-mono and Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English subtitles. Like the video it is imperfect but adequate, sounding vintage and limited in it's range the higher registers of the Alexander Laszlo (Beast from Haunted Cave) can be a bit shrill, and there's some light noise on the track as well, but dialogue is never a chore to decipher.
Extras include a new audio commentary from professor and film scholar Jason A. Ney which gets into the cast and production, particularly star Turhan Bey and the cinematography of C. Alton. We also get the 20-min Mysteries Exposed: Inside the Cinematic World of Spiritualism, a new original documentary from Ballyhoo Motion Pictures that explores Hollywood's history of spiritual mediums with Courtney C, Joyner and author Lisa Morton.
The single-disc release arrives in a black keepcase with a single-sided sleeve of artwork featuring the original illustrated movie poster. Inside there's a 10-page illustrated booklet with an essay, “The Amazing Mr. Bey,” by Don Stradley that gets into the career of mysterious "exotic" star Turhan Bey.
- Audio Commentary from professor and film scholar Jason A. Ney
- 10-Page Illustrated Collector's Booklet with essay, “The Amazing Mr. Bey,” by Don Stradley
- Mysteries Exposed: Inside the Cinematic World of Spiritualism, an original documentary from Ballyhoo Motion Pictures (20 min)