X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes

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X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes
X-RayEyes Rep.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Roger Corman
Produced by Roger Corman
Written by Robert Dillon
Ray Russell
Starring Ray Milland
Diana Van der Vlis
Harold J. Stone
John Hoyt
Don Rickles
Music by Les Baxter
Cinematography Floyd Crosby
Edited by Anthony Carras
Distributed by American International Pictures
Release dates
  • September 18, 1963 (1963-09-18)

1971 (France)
Running time
79 min
Country United States
Language English
Budget ~$250,000[1]
Box office 53,087 admissions (France)[2]

X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes is a 1963 science fiction/horror film. Directed by Roger Corman from a script by Ray Russell and Robert Dillon, the film stars Ray Milland as Dr. James Xavier. A world-renowned scientist, Dr. Xavier experiments with X-ray vision and things go horribly wrong. While most of the cast are relatively unknown, Don Rickles is notable in an uncharacteristically dramatic role. Veteran character actor Morris Ankrum makes an uncredited appearance, his last in the movie industry. American International Pictures released the film as a double feature with Dementia 13.

Shot in a mere three weeks on an ultra-slim budget of $300,000, Corman described the film's success as a miracle. The movie was notable for its use of visual effects to portray Dr. Xavier's point of view. While crude by later standards, the visuals are still effective in impressing upon the audience the bizarre viewpoint of the protagonist.

Plot synopsis[edit]

Dr. Xavier develops eyedrops intended to increase the range of human vision, allowing one to see beyond the "visible" spectrum into the ultraviolet and x-ray wavelengths and beyond. Believing that testing on animals and volunteers will produce uselessly subjective observations, he begins testing the drops on himself.

Initially, Xavier discovers that he can see through people's clothing, and he uses his vision to save a young girl whose medical problem was misdiagnosed. Over time and with continued use of the drops, Xavier's visual capacity increases and his ability to control it decreases. Eventually he can no longer see the world in human terms, but only in forms of lights and textures that his brain is unable to fully comprehend. Even closing his eyes brings no relieving darkness from his frightening world, as he can see through his eyelids.

After accidentally killing a friend, Xavier goes on the run, using his x-ray vision first to work in a carnival, and then to win at gambling in a casino. Xavier's eyes are altered along with his vision: first they become black and gold, and then entirely black. To hide his startling appearance, he wears dark wrap-around sunglasses at all times.

At the end of the movie, Xavier drives out to a desert and wanders into a religious tent revival. He tells the evangelist that he is beginning to see things at the edges of the universe, including an "eye that sees us all" in the center of the universe. The pastor replies that what he sees is "sin and the devil", and declares the biblical quote of "If thine eye offends thee... pluck it out!",[3] and Xavier chooses to blind himself rather than see anything more.


Alternate ending[edit]

There have long been rumors about an alternate ending for the movie, in which Dr. Xavier removes his eyes, and afterwards screams "I can still see!"

Writer and horror film buff Stephen King related these rumors in his book Danse Macabre. This footage has never turned up, but in the DVD audio commentary for X in the 2001 "Midnite Movies" series from MGM, Corman claimed shooting the scene on a whim—the "I can still see!" line was not in the script. However, Corman says he was dissatisfied with the results and retained the original script's ending.[citation needed]

However, in other instances, Corman has claimed that the scene was completely Stephen King's creation, though he wishes that he had thought of it.[citation needed]


The film won the 1963 "Silver Spaceship" award at the first International Festival of Science Fiction Film (Festival internazionale del film di fantascienza) in Trieste, Italy.[4][5]

Analysis and adaptations[edit]

In his book Danse Macabre, Stephen King notes a strong Lovecraftian quality to X, based on Xavier's near-insanity when he cannot comprehend the god-like being he sees at the center of the universe.

In 1999, comics artist Alex Ross drew the character Kyle Richmond aka Nighthawk to look like Ray Milland from his portrayal in the film, for the comic book mini series Earth X. The character also has eyes with powers.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Roger Corman & Jim Jerome, How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never lost a Dime, Muller, 1990 p 117
  2. ^ Box office information for Roger Corman films in France at Box Office Story
  3. ^ IMDB quotation page for X
  4. ^ http://www.sciencefictionfestival.org/archivio-edizioni/festival-internazionale-del-film-di-fantascienza/fiff-1963/
  5. ^ http://scifiportal.eu/trieste-international-film-festival/

External links[edit]