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Saturday, July 06, 2013

Doctor X (1932) - Michael Curtiz

Michael Curtiz and First National/Warner Brothers pictures brings you the first color horror film. From 1932 we have Dr. X, this obscure and rarely appreciated feature stems from a time when motion pictures were just beginning to be regulated. Tons of these movies came out that didn't have to sign a censorship clause. This movie is supposedly one of these movies. Rape, Cannibalism, and Murder are all examples of what we are dealing with. Something all sorts of weird and ahead of it's time.

The plot is simple enough. Someone is stalking and killing people in New York, he is dubbed the Moon Killer. A campy thirties journalist is hot on the case and begins digging up all sorts of trouble. The movie has its really intense points and dull ones as well. It is truly a testament to the dialog in the era. 


So, this is a horror/comedy that follows in the footsteps of the one's that came before it. It isn't the comedy that drags people in. Hell, it isn't even the suspense. No. It's the color. This is a really early picture and it was filmed in a rare color process. It should be appreciated way more than it really is. The process was so rare. It made the movie that much more interesting.

Lionel Atwill leads us here in a pretty decent performance. Everything else is completely overacted and really campy. That adds to the quality of the picture though. The period dialect and the over the top mannerisms are something that I have come to love in my journey though the celluloid. Good movie. 

Dr. X is another movie referenced in Rocky Horror Picture Show's intro. It should be more widely regarded as such. However, it doesn't look like it gets it just desserts. Enjoy this movie with your friends. It's not a snoozefest.

Dr. X will build a creature

  • Contrary to Technicolor's edict, Warners shot a black-and-white version of "Doctor X." At least two scenes in the black-and-white version use different takes than the color one: the scene with Lee Tracy and Mae Busch in the house of prostitution scene and the sequence with Tracy in the skeleton room. 
  • The play opened in New York City, New York, USA on 9 February 1931.
  • For a time Warner Brothers did not have a print of the original Technicolor version and it was assumed to be lost. The Technicolor version was finally discovered and restored by the UCLA Archives.


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