The Amazing Mr. X (1948)

MARCH 20, 2008


With a title like The Amazing Mr. X, I thought this was going to be some sort of sci-fi heavy monster movie. But no, it’s a movie about an inordinate amount of magicians (both professionals and hobbyists) doing their thing for little reason other than to nail one of two sisters. In theory, not a bad idea!

Like a lot of the budget pack movies, this one is a. so short and b. has just enough laughable moments to warrant giving it an OK mark. For example, within 3 minutes of the film’s beginning, we hear a woman say: “If a man ever chased me into the ocean in the middle of the night, I’d shoot him!” If you had a gun, why did you let this theoretical attacker chase you all the way into the ocean? And does the time matter? Is it more acceptable to be chased into the Pacific during broad daylight?

The conversation even gets more puzzling as the two women begin discussing whether or not one of them will accept a man’s proposal later that night. We are given the impression he has asked her before, and their entire attitude about the possible engagement is impressively laid back; they might as well be discussing whether or not they will go to church on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. Later, during the actual proposal, the guy seems just as shruggish about it; you get the idea that if the phone rang or something that he might forget to ask entirely. The movie’s message seems to be: Marriage - eh, why not?

Later in the film, it seems as if the writer was just trying to be a wiseass, which results in scenes like this:

(A sinister guy opens a door into a house, where the good guy is already inside)
Good guy: “What are you doing here?”
Sinister Guy: “Right now? Opening this door.”

This is even topped in dry hilarity about 10 minutes later. The bad guy has one of the good guys at gunpoint, and the good guy seems to think the bad guy is out of bullets. So he begins, “I started with 7 shells... I have one in the chamber-“ – and then he is cut off by the cops, who riddle him with bullets before he gets a chance to finish his line. It’s fucking hilarious.

As for, you know, the actual MOVIE? Eh. It reminded me of a few other budget pack ones, including Tormented. Like I said, it’s hardly long enough to get boring, and it’s kind of cool to see so many magicians act snooty with one another, scoffing at the others’ knots and such. There isn’t much in the way of horror, especially when the ‘ghost’ is revealed to be a hoax around the halfway mark or so, but it still moves along nicely, and director Bernard Vorhaus and/or DP John Alton are much more inventive with their camerawork and lighting than many of their peers (there’s a lot of great use of single light sources illuminating just the face on a portrait in a wide shot of a room, and things like that).

Unfortunately, the transfer doesn’t do the film justice. It may be one of the worst on the set thus far, in fact. The usual frame skips are larger than usual (at one point it seems a good 5 seconds is missing) and there picture is off center.

Can YOU read any of this shit?

There’s also the strangest transfer flaw I’ve ever encountered; strange to the point where I am convinced I am imagining it. During several scenes I swear I heard a “TV in the next room” type sound. It certainly wasn’t coming from any defined source in the film itself. If anyone else has the Horror Classics pack, please check on this. I can hear it particularly in the scene where the heroine goes to the house and sees a bird before talking to one of the magician guys. You might need headphones, for it is very faint. And possibly non-existent.

What say you?


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