For Reel

Doctor X (1932)
July 7, 2012, 6:53 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Michael Curtiz

A cannibalistic murderer is on the loose, and conveniently several members of the titular Dr. Xavier’s medical academy have a history of consuming flesh. Ridiculous and overlong even at 76 minutes, Doctor X nonetheless provides pleasures as a cult film, in addition to serving as a showcase for famed makeup artist Max Factor and set designer Anton Grot. Moreover, it stars the wise-cracking Lee Tracy, whose charisma as a performer more than compensates for the corny gags he’s given (though a sequence in which he riffs with a prop skeleton does provide genuine laughs). The picture was one of the last that was made using the two-color Technicolor process, which produces mainly orange and green hues. In a key transformation sequence, color is useful to enhance the grotesque imagery, but elsewhere it is largely expendable – the shadows necessary to contribute to the mood of a horrific setting are at odds with the full potential of color cinematography. Creaky as the film is in its early goings as it introduces a series of suitably creepy suspects, it begins to produce genuine suspense when Xavier utilizes his preposterously convoluted method of finding the suspect.

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