Stare down between Rickles & Milland!
One of the first major box-office-poison stars who won an Oscar was also one of the first to go to American International’s low-budget junk division to continue his career when others simply faded away.
Man with X-Ray Eyes is a sight to see.
We think of Ray Milland as a man with an expensive toupee and a weary face. His career as actor and director fell into the skids after playing the lush DT-suffering alcoholic in the film The Lost Weekend. His Oscar led to a lost career. In this movie, he makes an equally ludicrous choice when he character decides to cheat at cards in a Las Vegas casino.
Milland liked to work, and he was not about to let trashy scripts and bad TV stop him. Here, he plays Xavier, or X-Ray Milland, the savior of mankind gone all wrong.
Milland often transcended much bad material by finding something a cut above: such was the case with Roger Corman’s delightful X-Man with the X-Ray Eyes.
Oh, it is filmed in lurid, eye-popping color, with boiling hard-boiled eggs standing in for bloody eyeballs in a glass specimen jar.
The film is actually quite modern and quite intelligent, dealing yet again with a researcher (Milland) who uses himself as the guinea pig—despite friend’s (familiar costar Harold J. Stone) objections.
Don Rickles is also around for the cynical laugh part as a carnival barker, perfectly cast as an unlikeable, greedy insulter.
The doctor starts off by seeing through paper folders to read messages or seeing through some clothes to see a missing button. Then, it becomes more sinister and more licentious. Yup, the thrill of voyeurism gives way to seeing bare bones beneath the sexuality.
There is a sense of medical come-uppance in Corman’s morality film that manages to hit on all the sensational aspects but presents them with a sensibility of political rightness. (Our woman doctor colleague demands respect—before the women’s movement in 1963).
You may be surprised that the exploitation elements are actually intriguing issues of ethics. Milland’s performance was regarded as scraping the barnacles off his once-high-toned acting, but in retrospect, he is professional and classy.