5.8/10
1,731
51 user 31 critic

The Return of Doctor X (1939)

Approved | | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi | 2 December 1939 (USA)
A hotshot reporter and a young doctor team up to investigate a series of grisly murders and a mysterious sample of synthetic blood.

Director:

Vincent Sherman

Writers:

Lee Katz (screen play), William J. Makin (from a story by)
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Humphrey Bogart ... Marshall Quesne
Rosemary Lane ... Joan Vance
Wayne Morris ... Walter Garrett
Dennis Morgan ... Michael Rhodes
John Litel ... Dr. Francis Flegg
Lya Lys ... Angela Merrova
Huntz Hall ... Pinky
Charles C. Wilson ... Detective Roy Kincaid (as Charles Wilson)
Vera Lewis ... Miss Sweetman
Howard Hickman ... Chairman (scenes deleted)
Olin Howland ... Undertaker
Arthur Aylesworth ... Guide (scenes deleted)
Cliff Saum Cliff Saum ... Detective Sgt. Moran
Creighton Hale ... Hotel Manager
John Ridgely ... Rodgers
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Storyline

New York newspaper reporter Walter Barnett finds himself out of a job after he claims to have found actress Angela Merrova dead in her apartment - only the next day she showed up alive and threatened to sue the paper. Determined to investigate he discovers her involvement with a strange doctor who is an expert on human blood. Barnett then finds a connection to a series of gruesome murders where the victims were all found drained of blood. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD...TO HAUNT THE LIVING!!! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 December 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Return of Dr. X See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Humphrey Bogart said of this film: "This is one of the pictures that made me march in to [Warner Bros. studio chief Jack L. 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 Warner's] or [Sam Warner's] maybe I wouldn't have minded as much. The trouble was, they were drinking mine and I was making this stinking movie." See more »

Goofs

Although Wayne Morris is billed as "Walter Barnett", he is called "Walter Garrett" in the film. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Mike Rhodes: Thank you very much.
Walter 'Wichita' Garrett: Well, I hope to see you again sometime.
Undertaker: I'm sure you will!
[Garrett does a reactive 'take.']
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Biography: Humphrey Bogart (2003) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Bogart's Strangest Role (But Not His Worst)
10 February 2014 | by utgard14See all my reviews

Reporter Wayne Morris and doctor Dennis Morgan team up to investigate some murders and a possible connection to people with a rare blood type. This leads them to suspect doctor John Litel and his creepy assistant Humphrey Bogart. In-name-only sequel to Doctor X that is best known today as Humphrey Bogart's only horror or science fiction film. As such, it's usually mocked or joked about. It really doesn't deserve to be. It's not a great film but a perfectly entertaining hour-long horror flick. Bogart's performance is fine. His nervous twitches and weird makeup give him a creepy presence that is the film's most memorable asset. For those looking to see him act much worse, I suggest seeking out more mainstream-acceptable fare as Dark Victory.

Interestingly, Bogie doesn't even get top billing. Neither does Dennis Morgan. Both are billed below Wayne Morris and Rosemary Lane. This seems odd today when Bogart and Morgan are more well known to classic film fans than either Morris or Lane. But in 1939 neither was a big star yet. Morgan was an up-and-comer and Bogie had been toiling away at WB for years as the villain in gangster pictures. Still, it seems strange WB at that time thought Wayne Morris had more potential than Bogie or Morgan. Morris is actually the weakest link in the film. He was an actor with a big frame and a boy-next-door likability but was ill-suited for a streetwise investigative reporter. The fact that he wore a silly hat with the brim turned up in front and was pretty much comic relief for the first half hour of the movie doesn't help the audience take him seriously. The supporting cast is nice. Rosemary Lane receives second billing and is the female lead but really has nothing to do but be the victim. I haven't added up everybody's screen time but it seems to me she was in the picture very little. Huntz Hall of Bowery Boys fame appears as a copy boy who needles Morris. Lya Lys has a meatier part than Lane as a woman brought back to life in the same manner Bogart was. She even allows herself to be made up to look waxy and dead, which was a big deal back in the day for any actress who wanted to be thought of as a romantic leading lady. John Litel turns in a typically stable performance as the doctor behind bringing Bogie back. He actually seems to be the movie's villain for most of the running time before Bogie's Dr. X takes over.

Overall, an enjoyable B horror film that should please fans of the genre. It's unfairly slammed a lot, even more than the usual B movie from the period. My guess is that's because a lot of Bogart fans who don't normally like this type of movie checked it out for him and didn't like it. The movie definitely garners more attention because of his part than it would otherwise. At its heart it's just another in a string of mad scientist movies made from the '30s through the '50s, albeit an enjoyable one. If you're a Bogart completist, I'm sure you'll want to check it out for curiosity's sake. Hopefully you'll like it. Fans of old sci-fi and horror films will definitely enjoy it.


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