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Classic Film Noir Double Feature Vol 3: Amazing Mr. X aka: The Spiritualist & Reign of Terror aka: Black Book

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

AMAZING MR. X: Mystery, romance and warm drama a charlatan, portrayed by Turhan Bey, poses as a spiritualistic medium to manipulate his chief victim portrayed by Lynn Bari. The victim s sister (Cathy O Donnell) suspicious of Bey, sets out to prove him a fraud until she falls in love with him. Bey is so influenced by Miss O Donnell that he decides to give up his fraudulent ways. But, it may be too late! Blackmail may be the undoing of the charlatan turned repentant. REIGN OF TERROR: France 1794 a taut, fast paced adventure set during the French Revolution that plays more like a gritty Film Noir thriller; courtesy of auteur director Anthony Mann and cameraman extraordinaire John Alton, plus an expert cast led by Robert Cummings who turns in a surprisingly tough performance and the most lovely Arlene Dahl. Bonus Features: <b/> Episode selection, Trailers, Amazing Mr. X Commentary by Jay Fenton, Reign of Terror Commentary by Alan Rode, Photo Poster Gallery, Digitally Restored. Product Specs: 1-DVD9; 165 minutes; Dolby Digital 2.0; B&W; 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio; MPAA - NR; Year - 1948, 1949; SRP - $19.99.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Turhan Bey, Robert Cummings, Lynn Bari, Richard Basehart, Cathy O Donnell
  • Directors: Bernard Vorhaus, Anthony Mann
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: VCI Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 31, 2009
  • Run Time: 165 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001PT6YGY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,631 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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By J. Clark on April 23, 2009
Verified Purchase
Anthony Mann's "Reign of Terror" (aka "The Black Book") is a delicious period noir I've been dying to see in a version that doesn't disgrace cinematographer John Alton's black-and-white eye for light and darkness. Mann never made an uninteresting film to watch, and neither did his frequent collaborator Alton. The other film, "Amazing Mr. X" (aka "The Spritualist") is one I was unfamiliar with. More minor in its craft and story (directed by Bernard Vorhaus)--but once again, there's that gorgeous Alton cinematography.

Films from a minor studio like Eagle-Lion are unlikely to be rescued and elevated to demo material, but VCI has done these two justice. They're more than watchable--the versions to beat. Thank you, VCI. And keep up the great job!
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This double bill of "B" Noir classics from VCI are well worth a look. While available on DVD elsewhere, VCI has pieced together some fairly decent prints and done a passable job of restoring these two minor classics. (The fly-by-night prints from the other publishers are terrible, get this VCI version).

Tops is Anthony Mann's wonderful retelling of the French Revolution as film noir, with stars Cummings and Dahl doing a wonderful job onscreen.

In the Amazing Dr. X a gothic thriller by director Bernard Vorhes, the real star is cinematographer John Alton who struts his pioneering and moody mastery of shadow and light to the fullest extent.

The extras, including an interview with Arlend Dahl make this a great package for Noir fans from VCI.
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VCI Entertainment presents "CLASSIC FILM NOIR DOUBLE FEATURE VOL.3" --- (1948/1949) (165 min) --- (Dolby digitally remastered) --- Amazing Mr. X and Reign of Terror both titles were originally released by the long-gone British-American outfit Eagle-Lion Films, both were photographed by the brilliant and eccentric John Alton (Cinematographer), one of the seminal stylists of film noir. "It's not what you light," Alton once observed. "It's what you don't light." --- These two films are powerful studies in darkness and shadow, punctured by bright beams of light -- Alton's trademark -- projected from unseen sources somewhere in the background of the deep focus frames --- Alton was a one of a kind cinematographer and it shows.

Our first double feature is "AMAZING MR. X" (29 July 1948) (78 mins/B&W) -- Is a gothic thriller starring the Austrian actor Turhan Bey, who brings all his exotic charm (Turkish father, Czech mother) to the role of a fraudulent psychic consultant attempting to draw a wealthy young widow Christine Faber (Lynn Bari) into his clutches --- On the beach one night, Christine, two years a widow, thinks she hears her late husband Paul (Donald Curtis) calling out of the surf...
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John Alton (1901-1996) was one of the all-time great directors of photography, and it's on his work in the black-and-white, shadowy worlds of film noir that a good bit of his reputation rests. This double feature from VCI shows him at his best, unfortunately not in spectacularly great transfers - though they may well be from the best prints available - but nonetheless they do give a decent idea of what he was capable - and they're darned fine films regardless. Other than his shared credit, and a filming date just months apart, the two have little in common, though both are fascinating examples of the style that really push the limits of what we might want to call "film noir".

THE AMAZING MR. X was directed by the fairly obscure Bernard Vorhaus, an American filmmaker who made just about 3 dozen low-budget features over a 20 year span starting in 1933, before being blacklisted and moving to Wales, where he had secondary behind-the-scenes credits for a few more years, apparently retiring in 1960 though he lived another 40 years after that. The only other film he made that seems to have any following whatsoever is a 1940 John Wayne quickie, THREE FACES WEST, one of Wayne's last b-movies made just as stardom arrived. So I can't say I had any real expectations going into this, which is probably a good thing. Basically we start with Christine (Lynn Bari), a lonely widow being courted by Martin (Richard Carlson), who meets a strange man, Alexis (Turhan Bey), who is apparently a psychic who knows much of her past, on a deserted moonlit California beach. Alexis is accompanied by a huge raven - we know we're in for something weird and spooky here, and this scene is expertly shot and put together, building a sense of unease both about Christine's past - and about the mysterious stranger.
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