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The Amazing Mr. X Movie Review

bari lynn alton landis

When film lovers conjure up memories of strong women in the 1940s, they may recall Joan Crawford with her thick lipstick and Jesse huge shoulder pads, but my favorite unsung actress of that era is Lynn Bari. Bari was a cool brunette with a deep hypnotic voice who glided through 70 films for 20th Century Fox between 1934–56. In the early days of her career, she would pass in and out of the plot so fast that her appearances would only register with her most meticulous admirers. By the time she hit her stride, her film career was nearly over. Fans who appreciated her fresh and easy banter as the mystery writer with Randolph Scott in Home Sweet Homicide or as a murder suspect with George Raft in Nocturne would not have many more Lynn Bari movies to enjoy before she moved on to television and the stage. The Amazing Mr. X/The Spiritualist was Bari's last important film as a central character. Carole Landis had originally been cast as a woman haunted by the “ghost” of her husband, but the beautiful Landis was haunted by a life beyond her control, and killed herself a few weeks before shooting was due to begin. Bari, benefiting enormously from the breathtaking camera work of the great John Alton, gave the role a depth and understanding that the essentially comic Landis would not have been able to supply. Whether drifting along a dark beach in flowing white evening gowns or registering a wry awareness of her fiance's romantic limitations, Bari gracefully sustained the delicate balance between world weariness and genuine vulnerability. Also in the cast were the ubiquitous Richard Carlson as her earnest but awkward love interest, the gently appealing Cathy O'Donnell, and Turhan Bey, delivering a surprisingly textured performance in the title role. Because The Amazing Mr. X/The Spiritualist lapsed into the public domain and is so often televised in murky prints that fail to do justice to Alton's cinematography, it has yet to acquire the reputation that it deserves. If actualized, rumors of a 35mm video may help to redress that injustice. Afterward, you can try to find a rental copy of Nocturne,then join the throng of Lynn Bari aficionados who are mystified by why such an intriguing presence continues to remain an unknown quantity today. AKA:The Spiritualist.

1948 79m/B Turhan Bey, Lynn Bari, Cathy O'Donnell, Richard Carlson, Donald Curtis, Virginia Gregg; D: Bernard Vorhaus; W: Muriel Roy Boulton, Ian McLellan Hunter; C:John Alton. VHS

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