The Return of Doctor X (1939)

Approved   |    |  Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi


The Return of Doctor X (1939) Poster

A hotshot reporter and a young doctor team up to investigate a series of grisly murders and a mysterious sample of synthetic blood.


5.8/10
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2 August 2001 | telegonus
8
| Fright Night With Bogie
This picture isn't bad at all, and is quite entertaining. It's problem is that it isn't very credible. In order to enjoy it one has to put oneself back into the spirit of the late thirties, as the nation was still reeling from the Depression and very much in need this sort of anodyne movie.

Basically it's a mad doctor movie mixed with the sort of breezy newspaper comedy (such as His Girl Friday) then popular. The story has little to do with the first Doctor X movie, which is quite different. Vincent Sherman directs his scenes for maximum suspense and energy, and makes a go at a contemporary horror film set in New York, with brownstones, hospitals and funeral parlors filling in for the usual old dark houses and castles. He succeeds very nicely.

The young leading players are likable but unexceptional. John Litel is, however, very fine as a sane doctor being manipulated by a mad one. The most notable casting is Humphrey Bogart as the resurrected Dr. X, and he is if nothing else visually striking, with his chalky face and hair with a white streak down the middle. He is altogether too familiar to be convincing in the role, which he handles competently.

Overall, I think it's fair to say the movie wasn't meant to be taken too seriously. It was made at a time when horror movies were made for fun as much as fright. Taken on its own terms it delivers the goods, and makes the Warners' standard issue New York streets look as spooky as a graveyard at Halloween.

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