The Invisible Man

(Not about language.)

The weekend’s background track while working and diversion from pain and discouragement was the Legacy Collection box on The Invisible Man, a collection comprising the 1933 original and four more on the theme — The Invisible Man Returns (1940), The Invisible Woman (1940), Invisible Agent (1942), and The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944) — plus some extras. Unfortunately, it lacks Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951), the most entertaining of the later spinoffs. But then the A&C is played for laughs, with only a hint of the Science Amok theme that drove the first Invisible Man film (as well as Dr. Moreau, Frankenstein, and Jekyll / Hyde from the great years of b&w horror movies); close to the end of The Invisible Man’s Revenge, we get the solemn pronouncement:

He probed too deeply in forbidden topics.

Background from Wikipedia:

The Invisible Man is a science fiction novella by H. G. Wells published in 1897. Originally serialised in Pearson’s Weekly in 1897, it was published as a novel the same year.

The Invisible Man [is also] a 1933 film directed by James Whale [of Frankenstein fame] and produced by Universal Pictures. Griffin [from the Wells book] was played by Claude Rains and given the first name “Jack”. The film is considered one of the great Universal horror films of the 1930s, and it spawned a number of sequels, plus many spinoffs using the idea of an “invisible man” that were largely unrelated to Wells’s original story and using a relative of Griffin as a secondary character possessing the invisibility formula.

Griffin is a former medical student who left medicine to devote himself to optics. He invented a drug that made bodies invisible and, on an impulse, performed the procedure on himself. The film begins with his frantic, thwarted attempts to find an antidote and then follows him as he descends into madness caused by the drug.

Here’s Griffin made up to move about in the world, with his face wrapped in bandages, plus dark glasses and gloves:

The film was a challenge for the special-effects people, and is otherwise notable for its scenes of comic relief.

The later films don’t come up to the first, but they have their moments, and not all of the films pursue the Science Amok theme. In Invisible Agent, in particular, the invisible man (played by sturdy, studly Jon Hall, who also took that role in The Invisible Man’s Revenge, before going on to the role of Ramar of the Jungle on television) is a secret agent for the Allies in World War II, who performs bravely and patriotically against Axis villains.

(More discussion of classic horror movies here.)


4 Responses to “The Invisible Man”

  1. Tané Tachyon Says:

    VIncent Price shows up (or his voice does, anyway) as an enthusiastic “The Invisible Man” at the end of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

  2. patricia Says:

    don’t you love October on TCM???

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Unfortunately, Comcast moved TCM from the regular lineup to bundle it with other channels you have to subscribe to separately, and I wasn’t willing to spring for it.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: