The Amazing Mr. X

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The Amazing Mr. X
(The Spiritualist)
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBernard Vorhaus
Written byCrane Wilbur
Muriel Roy Bolton
Ian McLellan Hunter
Produced byBenjamin Stoloff
StarringTurhan Bey
Lynn Bari
Cathy O'Donnell
CinematographyJohn Alton
Edited byNorman Colbert
Music byAlexander Laszlo
Color processBlack and white
Ben Stoloff Productions
Distributed byEagle-Lion Films
Release date
  • July 29, 1948 (1948-07-29) (United States)
Running time
78 minutes
CountryUnited States
The Amazing Mr. X

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. The film is in the public domain.[1]


Lobby card for the film

Two years after her husband's death, Christine Faber (Lynn Bari) hears her late husband Paul Faber (Donald Curtis) calling out one night. She walks outside her beachfront home and encounters Alexis (Turhan Bey), a mysterious stranger who seems to know all about her. After more ghostly manifestations, Christine and her younger sister Janet (Cathy O'Donnell) become enmeshed in the strange life of Alexis, a spiritualist. But Alexis finds himself in more trouble than he had in mind. After staging a convincing séance involving the deceased Paul, he is surprised by the appearance of Paul Faber himself, alive and well. It turns out he had faked his own death. Paul blackmails Alexis into continuing his con of the two sisters.

One evening, while Alexis romances Janet, Christine hears Paul's voice again. She emerges from her bedroom to investigate but falls partway from a cliff. She is ultimately saved by Alexis. Martin (Richard Carlson), her fiancé, tries to convince Christine to leave her house for safety and stay in a hospital; but Christine refuses, entranced by the recurring voice of Paul. Later, Janet suspects something fishy in Paul's "visitations" and searches the house for loudspeakers. She finds 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, killing him.



The film was known as The Spiritualist.[2] It was an original story by Crane Wilbur and was bought by Producers Releasing Corporation in 1947, with Wilbur slated to direct.[3][4]

Eventually the project was acquired by Eagle Lion as a vehicle for Turhan Bey, who was under contract to the studio.[5] Bernard Vorhaus was to direct and Muriel Bolton to adapt the story into a script.[6] Vorhaus did the film under a two-picture deal he signed with Eagle Lion. The other lead roles went to Lynn Bari and Cathy O'Donnell; the latter was borrowed from Sam Goldwyn.[7]

Wilbur would go on to become one of Eagle Lion's main writers.[8] Vorhaus later said he was unhappy with the script, however, and asked for a rewrite. He says producer Ben Stoloff allowed him to hire Ian McLellan Hunter, who rewrote the script in a week.[9]

Filming started 5 January 1948. Vorhaus says the shoot went for three weeks.[10]

Bey was under contract to Eagle Lion. He later recalled the film as "a fantastic role with wonderful people to work with and a lovely death scene I completely loused up... I just wish all my roles had been as interesting as that one."[11]

At one stage the film was also known as The Mystic.[12]


At previews, audiences found parts of the film to be funny, resulting in unintended laughter.[13]

Eagle Lion were happy with the film. However, when Vorhaus turned down the next movie they offered him, I Married a Communist, the company terminated its association with him.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sullivan, Monica (1998). VideoHound's independent film guide. Visible Ink Press. pp. 12–13. ISBN 1578590183.
  2. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. Feb 2, 1949. p. 37.
  3. ^ Schallert, Edwin (26 July 1947). "DRAMA AND FILM: Dorothy Patrick May Win Lead in 'Promise'". Los Angeles Times. p. A5.
  4. ^ "E.G.ROBINSON SIGNS FOR U-I FILM ROLE". New York Times. Aug 4, 1947. p. 14.
  5. ^ Hedda Hopper (Nov 29, 1947). "LOOKING AT HOLLYWOOD". Los Angeles Times. p. 7.
  6. ^ THOMAS F. BRADY (Dec 2, 1947). "METRO WILL FILM NOVEL BY RENAULT: ' Return to Night,' Book That Won $175,000 Prize, May Be Greer Garson Vehicle". New York Times. p. 37.
  7. ^ "O'DONNELL, BARI IN FILM WITH BEY". New York Times. Dec 26, 1947. p. 21.
  8. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. (Nov 14, 1948). "Crane Wilbur, Star of Silent Films, Carves New Career as Producer: Flicker Star Doing Well as Producer". Los Angeles Times. p. D1.
  9. ^ Vorhaus p 116
  10. ^ Vorhaus p 116
  11. ^ Weaver, Tom (2003). Double Feature Creature Attack: A Monster Merger of Two More Volumes of Classic Interviews. McFarland. p. 81. ISBN 9780786482153.
  12. ^ "Of Local Origin". New York Times. Mar 6, 1948. p. 9.
  13. ^ Higham, Charles; Greenberg, Joel (1968). Hollywood in the Forties. London: A. Zwemmer Limited. p. 67. ISBN 0-302-00477-7.
  14. ^ Vorhaus p 119


External links[edit]