The Return of Doctor X

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The Return of Doctor X
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Vincent Sherman
Screenplay byLee Katz
Based onThe Doctor's Secret
1938 story in Detective Fiction Weekly
by William J. Makin
Produced by Bryan Foy
Hal B. Wallis (uncredited executive producer)
Jack L. Warner (executive producer)
Starring Wayne Morris
Rosemary Lane
Humphrey Bogart
Cinematography Sidney Hickox
Edited by Thomas Pratt
Music by Bernhard Kaun
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
December 2, 1939
Running time
62 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Return of Doctor X (also billed as The Return of Dr. X) is a 1939 American science fiction-horror film directed by Vincent Sherman and starring Wayne Morris, Rosemary Lane, and Humphrey Bogart as the title character. It was based on the short story "The Doctor's Secret" by William J. Makin. Despite supposedly being a sequel to Doctor X (1932), also produced by Warner Bros., the films are unrelated.


This was Bogart's only science fiction or horror film. He never liked to talk about this film or another film of this period, Swing Your Lady , both of which he believed were among his worst.[ citation needed ]

Plot summary

A pair of bizarre murders occur wherein the victims are drained of their rare Type One blood type. Reporter Walter Garrett consults with his friend Dr. Mike Rhodes which leads them to Rhodes' former mentor, hematologist Dr. Francis Flegg. Flegg is initially unhelpful, but Garrett and Rhodes notice a striking resemblance between Flegg's strange assistant, Marshall Quesne and the late Dr. Maurice Xavier in old press cuttings. After opening Xavier's grave and finding it empty, they confront Flegg. Flegg admits using his new scientific methods to bring Xavier back from the dead and has employed synthetic blood to sustain his life. However, the blood cannot replace itself, and therefore, Quesne/Xavier must seek out human victims with the rare Type One blood type contained in the formula in order to stay alive.

A hunt begins for Quesne, who has discovered that Joan Vance, a nurse and Rhodes' sweetheart, is a carrier of the rare blood type. He escapes with her in a taxi, professing to be taking her to Rhodes. Barnett and Rhodes, accompanied by the police, track them to their location. Quesne is shot dead, and Joan is saved from the fate of the others.


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