AMAZING MR. X, THE (aka: THE SPIRITUALIST) (director: Bernard Vorhaus; screenwriters: based on the story by Crane Wilbur/Muriel Roy Bolton/Ian McLellan Hunter; cinematographer: John Alton; editor: Norman Colbert; music: Alexander Laszlo; cast: Turhan Bey (Alexis, Fake Mystic), Lynn Bari (Christine Faber), Cathy O’Donnell (Janet Burke), Richard Carlson (Martin Abbott), Donald Curtis (Paul Faber), Virginia Gregg (Emily), Harry Mendoza (Private Detective Hoffman); Runtime: 79; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Benjamin Stoloff; Eagle-Lion; 1948)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Christine Faber (Lynn Bari) is a wealthy widow whose husband Paul (Donald Curtis) allegedly died in a boating accident two years ago. The emotionally unbalanced grieving widow hears from her beach house balcony the voice of her former hubby calling out from the ocean for her not to marry the lawyer Martin Abbott (Richard Carlson). When Christine walks along the beach she’s approached by phony medium Alexis (Turhan Bey), who provides her with personal information about her husband that convinces her he can communicate with the dead and she becomes a regular customer. This is to the chagrin of her younger sister Janet Burke (Cathy O’Donnell) and Martin. The lawyer boyfriend hires a private detective, Hoffman, to check Alexis out, and Janet is sent over to Alexis’ to pretend to be a client in order to get fingerprints. In the meantime the detective discovers that Alexis served prison time for a previous con artist scam. But Janet falls in love with the charming Alexis, anyway, excusing the prison term as a badge of honor, and refuses to help any further. The detective, Martin and Janet visit Alexis who is in a crystal-ball gazing session with the impressionable Christine, and watch in amazement as Paul puts in an appearance from the dead. Hoffman says this is the most amazing thing he’s seen in his twenty years as a detective. It turns out Paul faked his death, and now blackmails Alexis to go along with his maniacal scheme to gain control of Christine’s estate. It’s revealed that Paul is a crooked gold-digger, who recently murdered wealthy wife number two when she wanted back the money she paid him to split. Paul aims to kill Christine and wants Alexis to marry Janet, claiming it would then be easy to steal the estate from her. But Alexis has a change of heart and thwarts Paul as he’s about to kill a startled Christine.
Bernard Vorhaus directs this intriguing thriller based on the story by Crane Wilbur (wrote the screenplay for Phenix City Story). Its one major flaw was that the gullible sisters are such dummies that it was hard to find them credible or to sympathize with them. Otherwise, this was a well-crafted and acted small B film that is a smooth mix of horror and noir.
REVIEWED ON 4/26/2005 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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