Invisible Man (1933)
Part of my science fiction movie watching project.
Tagline: Catch me if you can!
One winter’s day, a strange man, heavily bandaged, arrives at an isolated inn. There he asks for a room and complete privacy. He gets the room but the innkeeper (Una O’Connor) can’t bear to leave him alone. She soon wishes she had stayed away from the bad-tempered Invisible Man (Claude Rains)
James Whale directed Frankenstein (1931) which I didn’t care much for and Bride of Frankenstein (1935) which I adore.
In the main, this movie was more of a Universal Studios monster movie than science fiction. There were a few instances in which they touched on a rational explanation behind the invisibility. The movie did include the bit about digesting food being visible until digested I believe was in the original novel by H. G. Wells. It has been a long time since I read the book.
Note: I’m going to refer to the Invisible Man AKA Jack Griffin as Invisi because I can.
The Special Effects
Really the effects are the best part of the movie. There are funny scenes such as the shirt chasing the cops around the room. There are many sinister scenes, for instance, the one in which Invisi reveals himself to his former colleague, Dr. Kemp (William Harrigan). Of course, there is the usual fun stuff such as things moving on their own and doors closing.
My favorite scene had Invisi undressing in front of a mirror. The extras show how complicated this was to achieve.
My co-viewer noted that the screen blurred when Invisi was walking in front of someone. We weren’t sure if this was intentional but, if so, it’s good touch.
There was a lot of humor interspersed with the thriller stuff. The humor, particularly just before the invisible man’s entrance, was too goofy for me. For example, the piano player is exposed as a fraud: he’s using a player piano.
The innkeeper, in particular, whose officiousness gets her targeted by the irritable Invisi was even less amusing. I thought the film got mean-spirited when we were expected to laugh at her for crying over her badly injured husband.
It was much more entertaining seeing a pair of dancing pants and a ghostly rendition of “gathering nuts in May.”
It was tightly paced: just enough conversation to build the tension and the action flowed from the plot. Wish more movies were like this.
It also had the Universal horror theme of “there were some things men were not meant to know.” It turns out that Invisi has taken a chemical compound that makes him invisible. He had not discovered a German account of an experiment that left its subject aggressive and crazy. (My co-viewer commented that the real moral of the movie is to learn German before making wacky experiments.)
All in all not sci-fi but a lot of fun.
Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings – review
SF, Horror and Fantasy Film Review
DVD Verdict review
Classic-Horror.com review – information on special effects
Film Fanatic review
The ending surprised me by how vicious it was. Invisi corners Dr. Kemp, ties him up and gags him for the last car ride Kemp will ever have. Invisi thinks correctly that Kemp betrayed him. Not only does Invisi threaten to kill the man but he torments him by explaining how he will die while Kemp mutely struggles to free himself. He fails to free himself, and the Whale clearly sets up Invisi to get what he deserves at the end of the movie.