X: The Man With X-Ray Eyes
From The Deuce
- Released in 1963
- Running Time: 79 Min.
- Production Co: Alta Vista Productions
- Distributed by American International Pictures
Cast and Crew
- Directed by Roger Corman
- Written by Robert Dillon, Ray Russell
- Starring Ray Milland, Diana Van Der Vlis, Harold J. Stone, Don Rickles
- Produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff, Bartlett A. Carre, Roger Corman, James H. Nicholson
- Original Music by Les Baxter
- Cinematography by Floyd Crosby
- Film Editing by Anthony Carras
Dr James Xavier (Ray Milland) a surgeon, is working on a secret formula which will help him see through anything. With the help of his fellow doctors Dr Sam Brant (Harold J. Stone) and Dr Diane Fairfax (Diana Van der Vlis) he tests the formula which he calls "X" on a small lab monkey. The monkey shows that his vision can penetrate different colored cards but soon after the monkey dies from side effects. To further his experiments, Dr Xavier decides to test the serum on himself. After doing so by dropping the liquid into his eyes, he finds he can see through paper and even clothing. But he also can't stand the intense light burning his eyes.
In probably the only light hearted segment in the entire film, Dr Xavier and Diane attend a groovy 60s party and after a cute girl asks Dr Xavier to dance we get a funny sequence where we see that he can see through everyone's clothes as they dance.
When Dr Xavier tests his new X-ray vision on a sick patient, he can see through her skin into her body. The other doctors think she is sick because of a certain condition, but Xavier now knows that they are wrong. Xavier finds a way to stop the girls operation: he slices the head surgeon's hand with a scalpel, leaving him unable to continue. Xavier takes over and essentiallly saves the young girls life, although he is now in trouble for his actions anyways.
Xavier decides to keep going with his experiments, but Dr Brant gets on his case and in a shocking twist, Xavier accidentally pushes Sam right out a window, in which he falls to his death. Diane witnesses this and can see that Xavier is not acting rationally. She tells him everyone will think he has gone insane.
Xavier just takes off and is soon being accused of murder. He hides out at the local circus. He is now a performer called Mentallo and wears a blindfold with an large eye on it. He can read messages people write down using only his mind. Although we of course know that he can see through anything. Xavier now wears large customized blacked out sunglasses because of his increased x-ray vision which causes too much light to enter his eyes. Xavier's new manager/flunky is Crane (the legendary Don Rickles) who decides to get in on the financial gains of Xaviers amazing powers. Crane decides the circus is not the right place for Xavier to do his magic. He promotes him as a "healer of the sick", and sets up a small apartment in a seedy part of town. Older sickly people pay to hear about what is wrong with them. Xavier "heals" them by telling them if theyre sick or not before its too late.
One day Diane shows up at the apartment and Xavier gets in a fight with Crane and explodes in anger. Crane threatens Xavier by telling him if he leaves, he'll call the cops on him. He knows who he really is. Xavier doesnt care and he and Diane leave anyways. While driving in the car, Xavier gets an idea. He needs money to finish his experiments. Where better to go than Las Vegas? He can use his new X-ray vision to make a ton of cash.
After arriving in Vegas, Xavier and Diane begin playing the slots and the poker games. Xavier wins big, but after the casino manager and a guard stop to question him, Xavier freaks out, his black sunglasses get knocked off his face and we can see his eyeballs are now colored and mutated. Xavier then throws all his winnings into the air, causing chaos amongst the players and steals a car, driving maniacally through the Nevada desert. When a police helicopter calls to him to stop and give up, Xavier loses control and finally gets in a crash. He manages to stumble along until he finds a church meeting going on and walks inside. The last sequence of the film is truly shocking. Its one of my favorite endings of any cult film Ive ever seen.
Ray Milland brings so much intensity to his role as James Xavier, its really one of his best performances. The direction by Roger Corman is so sharply executed. He is continuously finding new imaginative ways to move the camera and add FX shots to keep the viewer engrossed in the story going on. This film was made in 1963, on a very low budget without any of today's modern CGI and it still stands up.
X is one of my favorite cult classics and definitely one of my favorite Roger Corman/AIP films. Highly recommended!
Reviewed by Popeye Pete - 9/21/07