Starring; Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, and Lee Taylor
Director: Michael Courtiz
A killer is stalking Gotham, butchering women--young and old--with a scalpel and surgeon-like precision. When the police turn their investigation toward the medical research insitutue operated by Dr. Xavier (Atwill), he hopes to prevent the entire institute from being tarred by scandal by conducting a scientific experiement that will identify the killer on his staff. With the moral support of his beautiful daughter (Wray) and a wisecracking crime-beat reporter (Taylor) standing by for the scoop of the decade, Xavier brings his collegues to his isolated country house... where the murderer soon proves himself quite unwilling to submit to Xavier's experiments, but not so shy about stabbing the house guests.
"Doctor X" is a fun little film that mixes the mystery, comedy, romance, and horror genres into a bubbling cauldron of craziness. From the collection of four surgeons at Xavier's institute, each more suspicious and apparently crazy than the one before; to Xavier's creepy bulter; to Xavier himself, the cast of characters here provide a rich pool of suspects. Wray and Taylor offer something attractive to look at admidst the strange collection of doctors and the bizarre, shadow-haunted scenery of the picture, with Wray presenting both radiant beauty and a very charming, very smart character. (In fact, Wray's beauty surrounded by the calculated ugliness of the rest of the film is a contrast that heightens just about every aspect of the film.
Something that will strike viewers coming to this film without foreknowledge--as I did--will be struck by the fact that instead of the expected greys and blacks, the film appears to be in sepia tones... until Wray makes her first appearance on screen, wearing a dress that's a startling, vibrant green in among the shadows and reddish-brown tones of the majority of the scenery. Later, there are other splashes of red and green; "Doctor X" was shot in an early version of Techicolor, and, while I found the reddish and/or greenish tint that was cast over everything generally tiresome, the bright splashes of concentrated color wow'ed me every time they appeared.
As a historical artifact in the development of film techniques, or just as a fun little comedy/thriller that's crammed to the brim with mad scientists, "Doctor X" is a movie that I think any lover of classic movies will enjoy immensely.