24 Jun 2013

X - THE MAN WITH THE X RAY EYES

By David Lee Andrews   Posted at  08:00   SCI-FI + FANTASY

The Man With The X-Ray Eyes CoverIf you've got bad eyesight, for God sake, don't watch this movie. Not because it's blurry or anything. Hell no. But because of some of the mind-bending antics the guys and girls in this piece get up to. You know, folks like the Director: Roger Corman; or Actors: Ray Milland, Diana Van der Vlis, and Don Rickles. It was made in 1963, and lasts for about 79 minutes.


The Man With The X-Ray Eyes


THE STORY:
Despite having his funding cut by the medical board because he accidentally killed a monkey, Doctor James Xavier (Ray Milland) still does it. He still manages to concoct a special solution that he administers to himself, so that he can see far-far-far beyond normal human comprehension.

Of course, this 'x-ray vision' does give James certain positive attributes to begin with. Like being able to see his fellow doctor, Diane Fairfax (Diana Van der Vlis), in the nude for instance. Or having the ability to diagnose a patient who has been misdiagnosed by a surgeon.

However, after a brash encounter James has during said surgery, things change for him when he gets into an argument with his friend, Doctor Sam Brant (Harold J. Stone), and then pushes him out of a window by mistake.

Yeah! No kidding! James does kill his medical mate. But what do you think he does next you might ask yourself? Join the circus? Ally himself with a dodgy looking Carney called Crane (Don Rickles)? And then show-up a heckler (Dick Miller) during a magic trick he's involved with?

Well, if James does do all of this, let's hope that what next transpires doesn't go tits up when Crane discovers that James is a more than he actually is! As Diane comes a calling - a Casino starts a bawling - a doctor has to flee - and please-please remember, there are none so blind as those who will not see.




THE REVIEW:
Now without beating about the bush, there were a number of reasons why I wanted to watch 'X - The Man with the X Ray Eyes'. Firstly, it was a Roger Corman film -- so I partly knew I would enjoy it. Secondly, Don Rickles and Dick Miller were both part of the cast -- and that's always a good thing in my book. And lastly, I knew that the 'hero' of this piece was someone who had to take a lot of eye-drops, and wanted to see more than he normally could -- and to me -- someone with bad vision -- well -- let's just say I can associate with this need on many-many levels.

Ray Milland in The Man With The X-Ray Eyes
Thank God it didn't disappoint. As to me this was one f*cking amazing film! It was funny in places. Mannered in others. And overall is one of those adventures that I thought would have been given more credit in the industry than it currently has.

Granted, there were a couple of flaws in it too. For example, I wasn't very keen on the sudden 'jolt' between the 'medical portion' of the film and the 'circus portion' of the film; without any explanation given about the segway in question. Furthermore, here and there certain 'special effects' weren't really that 'special' either; if you get my gist.


The Man With The X-Ray Eyes Poster


The Man With The X-Ray Eyes DVD
Still, these two minuscule gripes aren't much to grumble about all in all. Just look at the facts: (1) 'American International Pictures' released this $250,000 dollar production on the same day a swarm of rioters burnt down the British Embassy in Jakarta -- the 18th of September, 1963. Moreover, it was recorded within three weeks too. (2) To give the impression that the main character could see through a building, the director, Roger Corman, filmed the building in question twice; time-lapsed forward, then backwards. (3) This movie originally had a five minute prologue that explained the nature of human senses. However, it was eventually removed by the producers just to cut down on the overall running time. (4) Now it's a matter of debate if the final scene -- where Dr. Xavier  allegedly screams "I can still see!" -- was actually filmed or not. Roger Corman says that it wasn't; whereas certain film critics say that it was, yet ultimately scrapped. (5) If you've watched the 1973 Martin Scorsese classic, 'Mean Streets', you can see a poster relating to this thriller in a scene between De Niro and the guys. Also, the vision sequence from the 2001 film, 'Donnie Darko', was partly inspired by this piece. (6) This production won the 'The Silver Spaceship' best film award in 1963, held at the first International Festival of Science Fiction Films. (7) Comic book artist, Alex Ross, based his 'Earth X' character -- Nighthawk -- on Ray Milland's performance in this movie. (8) I'm afraid to say that this was the final screen appearance for the veteran television actor, Morris Ankrum.


Don Rickles in The Man With The X-Ray Eyes


Hey, dear reader! Did you notice point seven in my trivia splurge? About how Alex Ross was inspired to create the hero called Nighthawk after watching 'X - The Man with the X Ray Eyes'? Well, I don't blame him you know. From my own comic book perspective this movie really does remind me a lot like a superhero's origin.

X The Man With The X Ray Eyes Poster
To start off with you have the man who gives himself superpowers. Next, you have the love interest and all that stuff that come along with it. After that, you've the 'hero' finding his own way within 'the urban wilderness'. And finally: you have the resolution to the overall tale.

Honestly. I like to think of this flick as a cross-between two old comic books I once read -- a Superman one and a Daredevil one -- where these two heroes had to individually cope with their own heightened senses as best they could. All you have to do is add in a lot of mannered performances, a jolt in the plot line, a very pretty blonde, plus a couple of dodgy looking visual, and you'd have a perfect match.

Yeah. Straight up. 'X - The Man with the X Ray Eyes' is a great film in my eyes. No. Not 'great'. F*cking amazing. And is definitely worth the watch for anyone who loves Roger Corman films, comic books, and a story about a man who is in way-way over his head.

Class in a can.

THE RATING: A-

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