“X”

“X” (AKA X: The Man with the Xray Eyes)
Directed by Roger Corman
Written by Robert Dillon and Ray Russell
1963/USA
Alta Vista Productions
First viewing/Netflix rental

Dr. James Xavier: I’m blind to all but a tenth of the universe.

Dr. Sam Brant: My dear friend, only the gods see everything.

Dr. James Xavier: My dear doctor, I’m closing in on the gods.

I got much more than the cheesy fun I was expecting.

Dr. James Xavier (Ray Milland) is doing some sort of expensive research that his grant donors are questioning.  It turns out he is developing an eye drop that will increase man’s range of vision from 10% of the spectrum to perhaps all of it.  Naturally, he is his own guinea pig.  When the committee finds out what Xavier is up to, it pulls his funding.  Xavier goes back to the practice of medicine where his Xray vision gets him into trouble with less gifted colleagues.  He must flee.

Xavier ends up doing mind-reading at a carnival.  His promoter (Don Rickles) discovers that his mind-reading is real and tries to blackmail him to become a faith healer.  As the story progresses things get worse and worse for Xavier.  By the end, all he longs for is darkness.

This was one of Corman’s best films and Milland’s best performances to date.  It’s sort of a Frankenstein story where the mad scientist becomes his own pathetic creature. Recommended to fans of this sort of thing.

The DVD contains two excellent commentaries – one by Roger Corman and the other by a film historian.