Sunday, June 20, 2021

Tonight's Movie: Doctor X (1932) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

DOCTOR X (1932) is a horror film recently restored and released on a stunning Blu-ray by the Warner Archive Collection.

The restoration, a joint effort from the UCLA Film and Television Archive and the Film Foundation, is simultaneously spooky and beautiful. Green is the dominant look of this two-strip Technicolor film, which casts every scene in a creepy, otherworldly glow.

DOCTOR X was directed by Michael Curtiz. Lee Tracy stars as Lee Taylor, an intrepid reporter trying to solve a series of especially disturbing murders by the "Moon Killer."

The murders all occur near the Mott Street Morgue, where Dr. Xavier (Lionel Atwill) and several colleagues (including Preston Foster) are carrying out experiments. The doctors all have unusual elements in their backgrounds which make them possible suspects.

While trying to solve the mystery Lee also falls for Dr. Xavier's beautiful daughter Joanne (Fay Wray), who will soon be in mortal danger herself.

I generally don't watch horror films, but having skipped last year's Warner Archive release of the restored THE MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM (1933), I decided to give DOCTOR X a try. The restored two-strip Technicolor (filmed by Ray Rennahan and the uncredited Richard Towers) and plentiful extras were a big pull, along with my liking for Tracy, Foster, and Wray.

The film's look is indeed very impressive, but DOCTOR X confirmed that horror is definitely not for me! Particularly befitting a pre-Code, the film was disturbing both verbally, with discussion of cannibalism, and visually, thanks to some, well, horrific special effects.

Thankfully Tracy's character serves to lighten things up periodically with both comedic reactions and his romancing of the lovely Wray, but the overall film was simply "too much" for me to enjoy for 76 full minutes.  That said, horror fans should absolutely love this fantastic Blu-ray presentation!

The Blu-ray disc includes a separately filmed black and white version of the movie which was also fully restored. The disc also includes not one but two commentary tracks; Michael Curtiz biographer Alan K. Rode speaks on one track, and a 2006 DVD commentary by UCLA's Scott MacQueen is the second track.

Rode and MacQueen are also featured in a 28-minute documentary, MONSTERS AND MAYHEM: THE HORROR FILMS OF MICHAEL CURTIZ. A trailer and an 8-minute restoration featurette are also included.

Highly recommended for horror fans.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection Amazon Store or any online retailers where Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger dfordoom said...

Two-strip Technicolor could almost have been specifically invented for horror movies. But MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM is I think a lot better than DOCTOR X.

4:23 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

The film's two-strip look really added so much to the movie!

Interested to hear you feel WAX MUSEUM is better. I don't think I'll be watching it, though -- I'm just a scaredy-cat I guess! LOLLLL.

Best wishes,

11:54 PM  
Blogger john k said...

Laura,I too remember that you said you were too "chicken" to watch Horror films and I must admit you have chosen a great one with DOCTOR X.
The comic relief does provide lighter moments to the gory goings on but I must admit that Warner Archive have provided a wonderful package here for fans.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi John! Yes, that's me, I'm a chicken! LOL. Tried to push my boundaries with this one a little but I still have trouble with horror. Was grateful for the comic relief!

The Warner Archive really did a fantastic job with this release.

Best wishes,

11:49 PM  

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