The Amazing Mr X (1948): Review
The Amazing Mr X is an atmospheric thriller released in 1948. Lynn Bari stars as, widow, Christine Faber. 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.
Christine accepts 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 every reason to scream the way that she does.
Beginning 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.
Barrie is 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 dark and brooding feel that many modern films, even with the aid of today’s special effects, find it hard to match.
Director: Bernard Vorhaus
Turhan Bey … Alexis
Lynn Bari … Christine Faber
Cathy O’Donnell … Janet Burke
Richard Carlson … Martin Abbott
Donald Curtis … Paul Faber
Virginia Gregg … Emily