The Amazing Mr. X (1948) - The Spiritualist
▸▸The Amazing Mr. X, also known as The Spiritualist, is a 1948 American horror thriller film noir directed by Bernard Vorhaus with cinematography by John Alton. The film tells the story of a phony spiritualist racket. The film is prominently featured in Alton’s book on cinematography Painting with Light (1949).
The film stars Turhan Bey, Lynn Bari, Cathy O’Donnell, and Richard Carlson. Eagle-Lion Films signed a contract with Carole Landis for the part played by Bari, but Landis committed suicide a few days before filming began.
Christine Faber (Lynn Bari) awakes one night to the sound of her late husband’s voice calling out. She walks outside her beachfront home to investigate. There, she encounters a stranger named Alexis (Turhan Bey), a mysterious spiritualist who seems to know all about her. She hears her late husband’s favorite musical composition, Frédéric Chopin’s Fourth Prelude from Opus. 28 in E minor, and is unnerved by it. After more nights of eerie vocal manifestations, Christine and her younger sister Janet (Cathy O’Donnell) decide to consult with Alexis. Over time, they become enmeshed in Alexis’s strange life. One evening, he stages a surprisingly convincing séance for the two women. After they leave, however, he is surprised by the appearance of Christine’s dead husband, Paul Faber, alive and well. It turns out that Paul (Donald Curtis) had faked his own death two years earlier. Having now returned, he schemes for ways to dispatch Christine in order to get his hands on her wealth. He begins by blackmailing the crooked Alexis into continuing his con of the two sisters.
One evening, while Alexis romances young Janet just outside the beach house, Christine hears Paul’s mysterious voice again. Just as before, she exits her bedroom to search outside but falls partway down a cliff and is ultimately saved by Alexis. Her fiancé, Martin (Richard Carlson), urges Christine to leave her house for safety and stay in a hospital. Christine refuses, helplessly entranced by the recurring voice of Paul. Later, Janet suspects something fishy in Paul’s “visitations.” And sure enough, when Paul’s voice is heard again, Janet searches the beach house and discovers both Alexis and Paul concealed in a small room with microphones, wire recordings, and other tricks of the spiritualist con game. Paul threatens Janet with a pistol, but Alexis tries to protect her from harm. While doing so, he is fatally shot by Paul. The police arrive. Paul shoots at them; but the cops return fire. This time, Paul dies.
Directed by Bernard Vorhaus
Written by Crane Wilbur, Muriel Roy Bolton, Ian McLellan Hunter
Produced by Benjamin Stoloff
Restored and upscaled by moonflix, LLC
Original release date:
July 29, 1948