The Amazing Mr. X

1948 noirish tale of the supernatural

Rating: 14/20

Plot: A widow hears voices while walking on the beach, meets a mysterious man and his raven (or crow), and then becomes obsessed with the idea of reconnecting with her dead husband. Others try to prove that the spiritualist is a fraud.

Despite a convoluted story with characters whose motivations don't always make sense, this is a really cool movie. Bernard Vorhaus directed, but the real credit apparently needs to go to cinematographer John Alton, who won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for An American in Paris. I really loved the look of this film, just gorgeous visuals. It--seemingly cheaply--does a lot with light and dark and mistiness. There are also some really funky special effects during a seance sequence that I enjoyed.

And lots of creepy pictures of the dead husband, one which made me laugh. I'm not sure I was supposed to laugh at it, but I did.

The dialogue is dopey, especially with some of the suggestive stuff, and the story's twists and turns are a little goofy. Actually, the entire plot is really goofy although I did like the characters. There's a detective who used to be a magician who entertains with a few magic tricks, Turhan Bey suavely plays the spiritualist with all sorts of tricks up his sleeves, and there's a terrific bird. I'm not actually sure if that's a raven or a crow. Or maybe it's a rook. I know it's not a pelican or a dove.

It's pretty far from a lost classic, but it's definitely not a bad way to pass a bit over an hour, especially if you love movies more for their visuals than their stories. It's got a similar feel to Jacques Tourneur's work if you're into that stuff. If not, you should be into that stuff.

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