A wealthy widow, Christine Faber (Lynn Bari, Shock), meets a self-proclaimed psychic, “The Amazing Alexis” (Turhan Bey, Arabian Nights), and immediately she is mesmerized by the man’s ability to see past and future events. Christine, who lost her husband in a freak accident, wants Alexis to help her communicate with her late husband, but the spiritualist is not what he appears to be.
Reaction & Thoughts:
Surprisingly stylish, dandy psychological thriller. I went into The Amazing Mr. X thinking that I was about to watch a silly B-movie and I was treated with an offbeat, atmospheric thriller instead.
I love movies about psychics. Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), and The Dead Zone (1983), are some of my favorite movies about clairvoyants. I’m not a big believer in this kind of stuff, but I love stories that revolve around people with psychic abilities. The Amazing Mr. X is bound to remain one of my favorite films about the subject matter. The screenplay by Muriel Roy Bolton and Ian McLellan Hunter (Roman Holiday) is full of fun twists and turns. Director Bernard Vorhaus (So Young So Bad) does a good job sustaining the suspense — there is not a waste frame in this 78-minute thriller.
The acting is above average. Turhan Bey is magnetic in the title character. I think it’s really unfortunate that he retired from acting not long after making this film. Lynn Bari, who never achieved stardom, is also good in the leading female role. Her sister in the film is played by Cathy O’Donnell (The Best Years of Our Lives and Ben-Hur), an actress I’m fond of — her acting is simple and deeply sincere. Richard Carlson (The Little Foxes) plays Bari’s current sweetheart.
The real star of the movie is cinematographer John Alton (Raw Deal and The Big Combo). Alton is widely regarded as master in his field and for good reasons. Every single shot in this film is a careful juxtaposition of lights and shadows. Alton doesn’t care if actors are heard but not seen, which is an attitude that was unheard of at the time the movie was released. The quirky camera tricks never feel self-indulgent because they fit the odd storyline like a glove.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
I hope I’m not overselling it, but I found this low-budget quasi-noir more interesting and entertaining than many Oscar-winning films. As I said before, The Amazing Mr. X was shot in a highly imaginative manner — I think it is the type of movie tailor-made for fans of Hollywood’s postwar era. Don’t let the cheap title discourage you — it’s really a good movie! B&W, 78 minutes, Not Rated.