© 1948 Ben Stoloff Productions

The Amazing Mr. X (1948)

I have known about The Amazing Mr. X for a long time, but didn’t get around to actually seeing it until today. The story of a phony spiritualist ring trying to fleece widows is fairly interesting, but the plot is a little too convoluted for its own good. The acting is not great, but not bad for a B-movie. But the real star of the film is cinematographer John Alton, who imbued each and every shot with dramatic light, shadows, fog, haze and diagonal lines. This is another example of a film that isn’t really helped by being in the public domain, as there are so many copies of atrocious quality out there. My guess is the original camera negative, if it still exists, must be beautiful, thanks to John Alton’s skill. The Criterion Collection has released deluxe DVD versions of films that people can get for free elsewhere in the past, and I hope they will do the same for this film someday.

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