Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933)


THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933). Director: James Whale.

The small British town of Iping is visited by one John Griffin (Claude Rains), whose scientific experiments have caused him to become invisible. Even as he desperately tries to find a way back to normalcy, one of the ingredients he used is slowly turning him into an insane megalomaniac. Soon he's not only frightening and terrorizing people, he's committing murders and derailing trains. The Invisible Man is well-made, fast-paced, and has excellent effects by John P. Fulton, but one senses that director James Whale didn't take the material all that seriously. While it's not quite an almost-parody like Bride of Frankenstein, which Whale did two years later, it does have a surplus of comedy (the novel had its humorous passages, of course) and not as much dark atmosphere as it needs. If we're meant to be chilled by Griffin's actions or the very notion of invisibility, Whale fails to work up any sense of dread or horror. Still, the picture is entertaining. Una O'Connor is as loud and hysterical as she was in the later Bride, but Gloria Stuart makes little impression as Griffin's nominal love interest. Claude Rains is excellent, definitely making an impression with his voice, as we never actually see him until the movie's closing scene! Followed by The Invisible Man Returns.

Verdict: Not all that it could have been, but not bad. **1/2.

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