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Subj: Creature Feature 18: The Invisible Man(1933)
Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2014 at 10:21:37 am EDT (Viewed 420 times)
Summer is almost over and Halloween is right around the corner, so what better way to prepare than with the classic Universal horror movies of the 30's and 40's?
In 1933, producer Carl Laemmle Jr.(Dracula, Frankenstein, Bride Of Frankenstein, The Mummy and The Old Dark House) and director James Whale(Frankenstein, Bride Of Frankenstein, The Old Dark House) created The Invisible Man for Universal Studios. The film is based on the novel of the same name by H. G. Wells from 1897. The movie features the U.S. screen debut of Claude Rains and is concidered one of the great movies of 1930's horror.
A mysterious stranger, covered from head to toe, takes a room at an inn in England, demanding to be left alone. In the room, he conducts experiments and earns the mistrust of the innkeepers. Trying to oust the stranger from the inn, the keepers call the police. The mysterious stranger(Dr. Jack Griffin) reveals himself to the policeman and the mob with him as an invisible man. He causes havoc in the small town and then seeks out his former lab partner. He tells him of his plans to take over the world through theft and murder, and selling his invisiblity formula to the highest bidder, which would enable a nation to create an invisible army.
Griffin's employer learns that Griffin was working with a chemical that bleaches anything it touches, but also, unknown to Griffin, causes a living subject to go mad. Griffin's employer and his fiance try to reason with him while the police have set up a manhunt to find the obviously deranged Invisible Man, who has committed murder and caused accidents which have killed over 100 people.
When there is a light snowfall, the police are able to track the Invisible Man by his footprints and fatally shoot him, causing his invisiblity to cease as he breathes his last breath.
The Invisible Man has always been a favorite of mine. I remember watching this movie, The Invisible Man Returns and of course, Abbott And Costello Meet The Invisible Man many times as a kid, but it wasn't until I watched the original in my late teens that I fully apprecaited how great this movie is beyond the special effects. Claude Rains is magnificent as the title character, even though he is only fully seen in the closing seconds, and the character actors that make up the rest of the cast are hilarious. Rains is funny and horrifying. He is a monster who can tip a baby carriage and gloat as he prepares to strangle people to death, yet is also worthy of sympathy when you understand that the drug has made him this way. He melts when reuniting with his fiance, but just as quickly returns to his foul ranting. Like with King Kong, today's audiences won't be overly impressed with the effects, as they are much less mysterious nowadays, but just as Cooper and O'Brien were able to make you care about Kong with a great story and animation, Rains' performance causes the viewer to look past the simple effects(for lack of a better word) and get totally caught up. Truly a masterful performance by any standards.
The scenes at the Inn. From Rains' outfit, wrapped in bandages with glasses, a whig and fake nose, to the outrageous Una O'Connor as the hysterical innkeeper's wife, to Rains removing his clothes and throwing souvenirs to the police, this opening gives you everything you need to know with mystery, humor and terror.
The Invisible Man causing a train wreck. This was some fantastic work with miniature models. Really believable.
"Even the moon's frightened of me, frightened to death! The whole world's frightened to death!" Rains' rants are magnificent. Truly one of the all time great maniacs in film history. He's so bluntly cold and murderous. And that laugh?
The ending when Rains loses his invisiblity as he dies. There's some excellent trick photography as first his skull and then his face become visible.
If you've never seen The Invisible Man or haven't seen it in a while, I'd recommend giving it another watching. It really stands up well 80 years later and is deserving of a spot with the all-time classics like Frankenstein and Dracula.
You can watch this classic here:
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