Doctor X (1932)

Unrated   |    |  Comedy, Crime, Horror


Doctor X (1932) Poster

A wisecracking New York reporter intrudes on a research scientist's quest to unmask The Moon Killer.


6.4/10
2,678

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25 August 2002 | telegonus
10
| Full Moon High
Old dark house thrillers were all the rage in the early talkie era. Doctor X combines a spooky old house with a mad scientist horror story, and as directed by Michael Curtiz in early two-strip Technicolor, it's a quite good show even by today's standards.

Lionel Atwill's Doctor X is a scientist who runs a medical research institute in New York City near where a series of grisly murders have recently occurred. He and his entire teaching staff are suspects in the case, as the police have determined that the killer has some medical knowledge. The ever-helpful doctor seeks to prove the authorities wrong, and transports his staff to the cliffside manor, Blackstone Shoals, to prove them wrong, and gets more than he bargained for.

Newspaperman Lee Tracy is along for the ride, and can't seem to keep his mouth shut, as he continually makes wisecracks. His character is utterly of the time, and as such a fascinating glimpse of a bygone type, both of real life and the movies. Fay Wray is her usual lissome self, with her peculiarly gyrating physicality far more interesting than her delivery of dialog. She's a brunette here, and proves herself once again filmdom's definitive Scream Queen, on at least one occasion shrieking with no provocation whatsoever, as if in preparation for the horror to come.

For a 1932 movie, this one moves quickly. There are enough dour and sinister-looking suspects to keep one guessing the identity of the murderer till near the end. Curtiz shows an often sadistic sense of humor, as when several suspects are manacled to their chairs to witness reenactment of one of the murders, only to have the real killer turn up! The director's control of the material is complete, and he shows himself once more one of great unsung masters of the studio era.

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