The Amazing Mr. X (1948)

1948 B thriller shot by renowned cinematographer John Alton, who was also involved with the following films already available on the archive: T-Men (1947), He walked by night (1948), Hollow triumph (aka The scar) (1948), The crooked way (1949), Reign of Terror (1949) and The big combo (1955).

Two years after the accidental death of her husband, Christine Faber (Lynn Bari) is trying to put her life back together and move forward. However, strange events lead her to believe that her husband is attempting to communicate with her, so she proceeds to consult the psychic Alexis (Turhan Bey). This worries her sister and her fiance, who suspect Alexis of being a crook and decide to prove so.

Summary

The Amazing Mr. X also known as The Spiritualist is a 1948 American horror thriller film noir directed by Bernard Vorhaus with cinematography by John Alton. Like Nightmare Alley (1947), this film tells the story of a phony spiritualist racket. The film is prominently featured in Alton’s book on cinematography Painting with Light (1949).

The film stars Turhan Bey, Lynn Bari, Cathy O’Donnell, and Richard Carlson. Eagle-Lion Films signed a contract with Carole Landis for the part played by Bari, but Landis committed suicide a few days before shooting began. The film is in the public domain.

Plot

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.

Cast

Turhan Bey as Alexis
Lynn Bari as Christine Faber
Cathy O’Donnell as Janet Burke
Richard Carlson as Martin Abbott
Donald Curtis as Paul Faber
Virginia Gregg (actor) as Emily
Harry Mendoza as Hoffman

Production

The film was known as The Spiritualist. It was an original story by Crane Wilbur and was bought by Producers Releasing Corporation in 1947 with Wilbur to direct.

Eventually the project was acquired by Eagle Lion as a vehicle for Turhan Bey who was under contract to the studio. Bernard Vorhaus was to direct and Muriel Bolton to adapt the story into a script. Vorhaus did the film under a two-picture deal he signed with Eagle Lion. The other lead roles went to Lynn Bari and Cathy O’Donnell; the latter was borrowed from Sam Goldwyn.

Crane would go on to become one of Eagle Lion’s main writers. Vorhaus later said he was unhappy with the script however and asked for a rewrite. He says producer Ben Stoloff allowed him to hire Ian McLellan Hunter who rewrote the script in a week.

Filming started 5 January 1948. Vorhaus says the shoot went for three weeks.

Bey was under contract to Eagle Lion. He later recalled the film as “a fantastic role with wonderful people to work with and a lovely death scene I completely loused up… I just wish all my roles had been as interesting as that one.”

At one stage the film was also known as The Mystic.

Reception

At previews, audiences found parts of the film to be funny, resulting in unintended laughter.

Eagle Lion were happy with the film. However when Vorhaus turned down the next movie they offered him, I Married a Communist, the company terminated its association with him.

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