The Return of Doctor X (1939)

Genres - Horror, Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Sci-Fi Horror  |   Release Date - Dec 2, 1939 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 62 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

The big lure of The Return of Dr. X is, of course, the chance to see Humphrey Bogart enter into Bela Lugosi-Boris Karloff territory and take on the horror genre. How does Bogey do? Well, it's a twitchy, manic, overblown performance -- not the kind of thing one normally associates with the actor, and certainly not one of his finest performances. This is clearly not Bogart's cup of tea, and one gets the impression that he was doing this under duress -- which is likely the case. Still, he's Bogart and so there are some special moments that do slip through here and there. Also oddly cast is Lya Lys, who could have played this kind of role with one hand tied behind her back. Walter Barnett is fine as the hayseed-y hero, and Rosemary Lane and Dennis Morgan also do fine. The screenplay is a load of nonsense that gets all jumbled up on itself, but it does provide enough opportunities for a chill or two to make it worthwhile. VincenT Sherman's direction lags a bit, only getting its pacing toward the end, but it exhibits visual flair throughout, imbuing the film with a bit of expressionism that is quite welcome.