Sunday, June 25, 2017

Movie review - "X the Man with X-Ray Eyes" (1963) ***1/2 (reviewing)

Saw this at the New Beverly with an introductory Q and A from Roger Corman, with Joe Dante doing the "Q". Corman is over 90 now so Dante had to do a lot of the running - Corman didn't quite speak into the mike, but still told some funny stories, two about Don Rickles (he got Rickles to relax on set by encouraging him to insult a member of the crew), and the one about the film at one stage being about a jazz musician.

I felt this was half a really good movie. There's a lot of intelligence, with plenty of interesting concepts - the notion of sight, and what you'd do with x ray vision.

There is strong acting across the board. Ray Milland is effective in the lead - it's actually a very good role, you get to act all over the place (wry, dedicated, flirty, mad). I wasn't that familiar with Diana van der Vlis but she's good as the girl (she's a doctor too so her character has status). Don Rickles is impressive.

The special effects are of their time but the limitations are expertly hidden and some of them are extremely effective, such as Milland's creepy eye make up. Memorable ending.

I felt the main problem was the story. All the right elements were there, it just didn't seem to flow the right way. Milland's accidental killing of the doctor felt very abrupt, and easily explained away. It didn't really make sense he'd go from that straight to working in a sideshow alley, or that it took so long to figure out that he could read cards for money. I was unsure of his overall goal. He had the power to cure, which was fantastic... but the piece lacked narrative drive. All the elements are there (using the powers for comic perving, saving lives, making money) but it felt like they were in the wrong order. I wish Charles Beaumont or Richard Matheson or Charles Griffith had done a pass on the script.

This is definitely a film from Corman's oeuvre that should be remade.

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