The Amazing Mr. X (1948)
(aka The Spiritualist)
Directed by Bernard Vorhaus
Lynn Bari plays widow,
Christine Faber, in this atmospheric 1948 thriller. Two years have
passed since the death of her husband, Paul, but Christine is still
finding it hard to let go of his memory. Her younger sister,
Janet, is worried about her and encourages Christine to marry again.
Christine is seeing her boyfriend Martin that very evening and
determines to accept his proposal (this time), despite that fact that
she has just heard the voice of the dead Paul calling to her from the
waves below the window of her beachside home.
Walking along the
beach to Martin's house, Christine again hears voices from among the
rolling waves. She is then distracted by a crow that caws to her from a
tree. Then, before she has time to recover her rapidly fraying nerves,
a man appears beside her and identifies himself as Alexis. He purports
to be a spiritualist and seems to know an awful lot about Christine.
While she is talking to the strange and mysterious Alexis she hears her
boyfriend Martin calling her name. He has walked out to meet her. The
beach at night is, after all, not a safe place for an unescorted lady.
Christine turns to speak to Martin and when she turns around again
Alexis has vanished. He has already planted seeds of doubt in her mind
though, about her relationship with Martin.
Martin's proposal, but strange things start to happen around her.
Martin puts one of her records on to play and the room is filled with
her dead husband's favourite melody. Christine has no memory of the
record being in her home. Then Paul's picture falls to the floor and
her new engagement ring vanishes. Add to all of this the ghostly, white
apparition that floats from her closet and chases her across the room
and Christine has ever reason to scream the way that she does.
to believe that Paul does not rest easy in his grave, and is unhappy
about her engagement, Christine seeks out the services of Alexis, who
turns out to be a very clever con-man. There are things happening
around Christine though, that Alexis could never have anticipated, and
the suave spiritualist soon ends up in over his head.
perfect in her role as the young widow at a turning point in her life,
and Turhan Bey is quite the debonair chap as the smooth talking Alexis.
In fact, there is rather an amusing scene in the film where Christine's
sister, Janet, is so filled with distrust for Alexis that she goes to
his house, under an assumed identity, in an effort to gather some
incriminating evidence about him. In a matter of seconds Alexis has the
young girl looking through starry eyes and positively swooning over
him. It would seem that crows are not the only bird that the
spiritualist can work his fake magic on.
The Amazing Mr. X
was filmed in black and white and most of the story is set either at
night or in dark rooms so to enjoy it properly it is best watched
in a darkened room, otherwise it can be a little difficult to see the
film clearly. It is a deeply atmospheric with a darl and brooding feel
that many modern films, even with the aid of today's special
effects, find it hard to match.
Turhan Bey ... Alexis
Lynn Bari ... Christine Faber
Cathy O'Donnell ... Janet Burke
Richard Carlson ... Martin Abbott
Donald Curtis ... Paul Faber
Virginia Gregg ... Emily
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