THE RETURN OF DOCTOR X (1939)
Director: Vincent Sherman
Starring: Wayne Morris, Rosemary Lane, Humphrey Bogart, Dennis Morgan, John Litel, Lya Lys.
Plot outline: A hotshot reporter and a young doctor team up to investigate a series of grisly murders and a mysterious sample of synthetic blood.
“This is one of the pictures that made me march in to Jack Warner and ask for more money again. You can’t believe what this one was like. I had a part that somebody like Bela Lugosi or Boris Karloff should have played. I was this doctor, brought back to life, and the only thing that nourished this poor bastard was blood. If it had been Jack Warner’s blood, or Harry’s, or Pop’s, maybe I wouldn’t have minded as much. The trouble was, they were drinking mine and I was making this stinking movie.”
That’s Humphrey Bogart‘s idea of the film. And yes, Karloff was originally cast. And no, it’s not that bad a movie. Sure, some scenes were added for comedy purposes and hardly one of them works. Sure, it’s not a big frightener (not that I think it was intended as one – more like a detective story with a horror twist). And sure, the title is glorious exploitation as it has nothing to do with “Doctor X”, the 1932 classic horror film slash box office hit.
Nevertheless, if you want an hour of decent sleuthing, “The Return of Doctor X” isn’t all too bad.