The Return of Doctor X

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The Return of Doctor X
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Vincent Sherman
Produced by Bryan Foy
Hal B. Wallis (uncredited executive producer)
Jack L. Warner (executive producer)
Written by Lee Katz
Based on "The Doctor's Secret" (short story)
by William J. Makin
Starring Wayne Morris
Rosemary Lane
Humphrey Bogart
Music by Bernhard Kaun
Cinematography Sidney Hickox
Edited by Thomas Pratt
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
December 2, 1939
Running time
62 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Return of Doctor X (also billed as The Return of Dr. X) is a 1939 American science fiction-horror film directed by Vincent Sherman and starring Wayne Morris, Rosemary Lane, and Humphrey Bogart as the title character. It was based on the short story "The Doctor's Secret" by William J. Makin. Despite supposedly being a sequel to Doctor X (1933), also produced by Warner Bros., the films are unrelated.

This was Bogart's only science fiction or horror film. He never liked to talk about this film or another film of this period, Swing Your Lady, both of which he felt were among his worst.[citation needed]


A pair of bizarre murders occur wherein the victims are drained of their rare Type One blood type. Reporter Walter Garrett (Wayne Morris) consults with his friend Dr. Mike Rhodes (Dennis Morgan) which leads them to Rhodes' former mentor, hematologist Dr. Francis Flegg (John Litel). Flegg is initially unhelpful, but when Garrett and Rhodes notice a striking resemblance between Flegg's strange assistant, Marshall Quesne (Humphrey Bogart) and the late Dr. Maurice Xavier, they confront Flegg. Flegg admits that he used scientific methods to bring Xavier back from the grave and employed a synthetic blood formula to sustain his life. However, the formula is unstable, and therefore, Quesne/Xavier must seek out human victims with the rare Type One blood type contained in the formula in order to stay alive.

A hunt is begun for Quesne, who has discovered that Joan Vance (Rosemary Lane), a nurse and Rhodes' sweetheart, is a carrier of the rare blood type. He escapes with her in a taxi, professing to be taking her to Rhodes. Barnett and Rhodes, accompanied by the police, track them to their location. Quesne is shot dead, and Joan is saved from the fate of the others.


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