Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


X (aka X, The Man with X-Ray Eyes/1963). Director: Roger Corman.

Dr. James Xavier (Ray Milland) is obsessed with developing a formula that will enable doctors to immediately diagnose a patient without x-rays, as their own eyes will be able to see through a person's skin and examine bone, tissue and organs [apparently a kind of "x ray vision" that doesn't contain any actual dangerous x-rays; the film is vague on this point]. Xavier puts the droplets in his eyes, then learns that his experiments will no longer be funded. He is able to see through people's clothing, and then their skin, but is frustrated by the lack of money to continue his work.The movie then veers in a different direction with a fatal accident, Xavier on the run, and his various misadventures leading to tragedy. The movie has a good enough premise but it isn't well-developed. The film seems disjointed, poorly edited, and Corman's usual adroit direction is mediocre. We're asked to believe that Xavier can sit playing 21 in a Las Vegas casino wearing huge black goggles and no one wonders what's up with that until he tries to leave with the cash. A scene when a character falls out of a window is comically under-written and under-played. Milland's performance is not bad at all, and his supporting players -- Diane Van der Vlis, Howard J. Stone, and John Hoyt as other doctors, and Don Rickles as a sideshow promoter -- are fine. Morris Ankrum, Barboura Morris, and Dick Miller appear in smaller roles. Les Baxter's score is nothing special.

Verdict: There are good things in the movie, but it just doesn't quite jell. **1/2.

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