The Mystery of Mr. X (1934)

85 or 91 mins | Mystery | 23 February 1934

Cinematographer:

Oliver T. Marsh

Editor:

Hugh Wynn

Production Designer:

Merrill Pye

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The novel on which this film is based was published in America as The Mystery of the Dead Police , which also was the film's working title. The American edition and subsequent British editions are credited to Philip MacDonald, Martin Porlock's real name. An Aug 1933 HR news item announced that director Edgar Selwyn was collaborating on the film's screenplay with writer Howard Emmett Rogers. The exact nature of Selwyn's contribution, if any, has not been determined. According to a Jan 1934 DV news item, M-G-M ordered that the film's ending be rewritten and reshot based on the reactions of a preview audience. In the first version of the story, "Nick" apparently did not get "Jane." Because Selwyn was in New York, Richard Boleslavsky directed the new scenes. According to a Dec 1933 FD news item, The Pacific Title and Art studio prepared a trailer for the film, which Pete Smith supervised. In the news item, the film is referred to as Murders of Secret Police , but this probably is an error and not a working title. In 1952, Harold French directed Peter Lawford and Dawn Addams in The Hour of 13 , an M-G-M remake of MacDonald's story. That film was shot in ... More Less

The novel on which this film is based was published in America as The Mystery of the Dead Police , which also was the film's working title. The American edition and subsequent British editions are credited to Philip MacDonald, Martin Porlock's real name. An Aug 1933 HR news item announced that director Edgar Selwyn was collaborating on the film's screenplay with writer Howard Emmett Rogers. The exact nature of Selwyn's contribution, if any, has not been determined. According to a Jan 1934 DV news item, M-G-M ordered that the film's ending be rewritten and reshot based on the reactions of a preview audience. In the first version of the story, "Nick" apparently did not get "Jane." Because Selwyn was in New York, Richard Boleslavsky directed the new scenes. According to a Dec 1933 FD news item, The Pacific Title and Art studio prepared a trailer for the film, which Pete Smith supervised. In the news item, the film is referred to as Murders of Secret Police , but this probably is an error and not a working title. In 1952, Harold French directed Peter Lawford and Dawn Addams in The Hour of 13 , an M-G-M remake of MacDonald's story. That film was shot in England. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
31 Jan 34
p. 2.
Daily Variety
20 Feb 34
p. 3.
Film Daily
17 Nov 33
p. 8.
Film Daily
28 Dec 33
p. 6.
Film Daily
24 Feb 34
p. 3.
HF
9 Dec 33
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Nov 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 33
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Feb 34
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
21 Feb 34
p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald
3 Mar 34
p. 35.
New York Times
26 Feb 34
p. 21.
Variety
27 Feb 34
p. 17.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dir of addl scenes and retakes
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Int dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
SOUND
Rec dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel X v. Rex by Martin Porlock (London 1933).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Mystery of the Dead Police
Release Date:
23 February 1934
Production Date:
began 27 November 1933
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Copyright Date:
2 March 1934
Copyright Number:
LP4538
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
85 or 91
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

After four constables are stabbed to death in four different sections of London by a serial killer who calls himself "Mr. X," Sir Herbert Frensham, the beleagured police commissioner, confers with Inspector Connor about how to stop the killings. With no true leads, however, the police fail to prevent a fifth murder, which occurs at the same time and near the same place as the robbery of the valuable Drayton diamond. Aware that the police believe that Mr. X has the diamond, the true thieves, Nick Revel and his cohorts--taxi driver Joseph Horatio Palmer and insurance clerk Hutchinson--decide to wait until Mr. X is apprehended before collecting a 10,000 pound insurance reward on the gem. Soon after, a sixth murder occurs, and Sir Christopher Marche, the fiancé of the commissioner's daughter Jane, is arrested because he had drunkenly assaulted the constable just before he was slain. Anxious to speed up Mr. X's capture, Nick and Palmer conspire to testify on Marche's behalf and state in court that, while driving by in Palmer's cab, they saw Marche leave the scene before the murder was committed. Nick then ingratiates himself with Jane and connives to have dinner with her father in order to suggest a way of catching the killer. Although Sir Herbert is impressed by Nick's idea of trapping Mr. X by announcing in the newspapers that his last victim survived the attack and can identify his attacker, Connor is suspicious of the thief and orders a background check on him. While Nick romances Jane away from Marche, Connor searches Nick's flat and tries to catch him with the jewel by having an undercover ... +


After four constables are stabbed to death in four different sections of London by a serial killer who calls himself "Mr. X," Sir Herbert Frensham, the beleagured police commissioner, confers with Inspector Connor about how to stop the killings. With no true leads, however, the police fail to prevent a fifth murder, which occurs at the same time and near the same place as the robbery of the valuable Drayton diamond. Aware that the police believe that Mr. X has the diamond, the true thieves, Nick Revel and his cohorts--taxi driver Joseph Horatio Palmer and insurance clerk Hutchinson--decide to wait until Mr. X is apprehended before collecting a 10,000 pound insurance reward on the gem. Soon after, a sixth murder occurs, and Sir Christopher Marche, the fiancé of the commissioner's daughter Jane, is arrested because he had drunkenly assaulted the constable just before he was slain. Anxious to speed up Mr. X's capture, Nick and Palmer conspire to testify on Marche's behalf and state in court that, while driving by in Palmer's cab, they saw Marche leave the scene before the murder was committed. Nick then ingratiates himself with Jane and connives to have dinner with her father in order to suggest a way of catching the killer. Although Sir Herbert is impressed by Nick's idea of trapping Mr. X by announcing in the newspapers that his last victim survived the attack and can identify his attacker, Connor is suspicious of the thief and orders a background check on him. While Nick romances Jane away from Marche, Connor searches Nick's flat and tries to catch him with the jewel by having an undercover policeman accuse him of theft. Before he is taken to police headquarters, however, the wiley Nick passes the diamond to Palmer, who in turn gives the jewel to Hutchinson. In a pub, a nervous Hutchinson returns the jewel by dropping it in Nick's beer, which Nick then swallows under the nose of an undercover policeman. Although Nick eludes the police by driving off with an unsuspecting Jane, Connor sends the already jealous Marche to Nick's flat. Outraged by Jane's presence in Nick's flat, Marche breaks their engagement, and Nick, realizing that he loves Jane, decides to end his life of crime and return the diamond. After Nick mails the jewel with a typed note from "Mr. X," Connor picks up Hutchinson and begins to interrogate him. As Hutchinson nears the point of confession, Nick deduces that Mr. X, who has announced his next murder for that night, has been using an "x" pattern to determine his murder locations. Confident he knows where Mr. X will strike next, Nick disguises himself as a constable, sneaks out of his police-guarded flat and rushes across town. After a fierce fight, Nick fatally wounds Mr. X, who then confesses to the police before dying that he committed the murders as revenge for a previous conviction. Hailed as a hero, the reformed Nick poses for reporters' photographs with the now-vindicated commissioner and embraces a loving Jane. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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