Directed by Roger Corman from a script by Ray Russell and Robert Dillon, X stars Ray Milland as Dr. James Xavier. A world renowned scientist, Dr. Xavier experiments with X-ray vision and things go horribly wrong. While most of the cast are relatively unknown, Don Rickles is notable in an uncharacteristically dramatic role. Veteran character actor Morris Ankrum makes an uncredited appearance, his last in the movie industryShot in a mere three weeks on an ultra-slim budget of $300,000, Corman described the film's success as a miracle. The movie was notable for its use of visual effects to portray Dr. Xavier's point of view. While crude by later standards, the visuals are still effective in impressing upon the audience the bizarre viewpoint of the protagonist. Dr. Xavier develops eyedrops intended to increase the range of human vision, allowing one to see beyond the "visible" spectrum into the ultraviolet and x-ray wavelengths and beyond. Believing that testing on animals and volunteers will produce uselessly subjective observations, he begins testing the drops on himself. Initially, Xavier discovers that he can see though people's clothing, and he uses his vision to save a young girl whose medical problem was misdiagnosed. Over time and with continued use of the drops, Xavier's visual capacity increases and his ability to control it decreases. Eventually he can no longer see the world in human terms, but only in forms of lights and textures that his brain is unable to fully comprehend. Even closing his eyes brings no relieving darkness from his frightening world, as he can see through his eyelids. His behavior becomes increasingly erratic, and Xavier's associates assume that he is going insane. After accidentally killing a friend, Xavier goes on the run, using his x-ray vision first to work in a carnival, and then to win at gambling in a casino. Xavier's eyes are altered along with his vision: first they become black and silver, and then entirely black. To hide his startling appearance, he wears dark wrap-around sunglasses at all times.
At the end of the movie, Xavier drives out to a desert and wanders into a religious tent revival. He tells the pastor that he is beginning to see things at the edges of the universe, including an "eye that sees us all" in the center of the universe. The pastor replies that what he sees is "sin and the devil," and declares the biblical quote of "If thine eye offends thee... pluck it out!", and Xavier chooses to blind himself rather than see anything more.
MAN WITH THE X RAY EYES
ROGER CORMAN (1963)
AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES