One of the true horror / thriller greats from the golden age of cinema. Doctor X exudes thrills and chills from each frame, deliriously intoxicating its audience like a fine wine. Each drop as sweet as the next. Lionel Atwill stars as the titular character, along with an equally magnificent cast of intriguing players. An amalgam of thrills, chills and deliciously deft humour abound in one of the cleverest movies of its time, and indeed of all time !.
There is a serial killer on the loose, murdering innocent people during the cycle of the full moon. Dubbed as the Moon Killer this reported monster appears hideously disfigured, and kills his victims with the precision of a surgeon. This miscreant of the night also has a taste for human flesh, and leaves each victim defiled with an act of cannibalism !.
After six fatal and heinous killings the police are convinced that they are the act of a surgical specialist. Doctor Xavier is the prominent head of the city medical institute, where he and acclaimed specialists are dedicated to their research. Any one of them could be the killer. Doctor Xavier pleads with the police to give him forty eight hours to undertake his own intricate methods to uncover the truth.
Xavier and his colleagues come together at Doctor Xavier’s coastal mansion, atop a cliff face, looking out over the sea. Here Xavier conducts his scientific investigation to out the killer, but things of course do not go exactly to plan.
There are plenty of red herrings, excellent sets, superb use of light and shadows, and a terrific cast of creepy characters. Every one of them has something about them that links them as a possible suspect, along with a ghoulish butler could Otto who could give Doctor Frankenstein’s hunchback assistant Igor a run for his money.
Light hearted tomfoolery is provided by a luckless and bumbling newspaper reporter named Lee Taylor (Lee Tracy), who manages to gatecrash proceedings at the mansion and get himself embroiled in the frightfully unusual events that play out. Fay Wray provides an attractive and bright addition to proceedings, playing Doctor Xavier’s daughter Joanne.
This really is an ingenious gem of a movie. Its use of early two tone Technicolor really adds to the piece, creating a film with depth to it that is almost 3D in quality. The hues of an old faded photograph resonate throughout the films macabre fibre. Comparing the film alongside its black and white trailer there is no comparison between which is the better version, and that is the Technicolor one without question here.
Preston Foster particularly stands out with his performance as Dr. Wells. His research is into that of cannibalism. Having lost his left hand he has dedicated his life to his field of expertise, its affect upon him evident in his appearance as a somewhat dishevelled individual, focused on his work.
Each of the professional men working under the same roof as Dr. Xavier at the Academy Of Surgical Research is as driven and committed to their medical studies, but what is the one defining factor that sets the killer apart, and for what purpose are they driven to kill !?.
Director Michael Curtiz has a superb cast of actors, along with a wonderfully intricate story to engage the best from them, enabling him to deliver to an engrossed audience such a delirious roller coaster ride of emotions, the most satisfying of all being surprise !.
They certainly do not make them like this anymore !.
Dr. X Trailer
Movie Details IMDB