It’s a dark and snowy night. A stranger covered head to toe in bandages arrives at the Lion’s Head Inn. He takes a room and asks for privacy. A while later, he falls behind on his rent and the landlords resolve to evict him. The stranger throws a fit and assaults the owner. The police are called. The stranger removes his bandages, revealing his secret to all present: he’s invisible!
H.G. Well’s fantastic novel was brilliantly adapted by Universal Studios in 1933. The film holds up extremely well today — even the 85-year-old effects.
Claude Rains plays Griffin, aka The Invisible Man. It’s a thankless role: Rains spends the film wrapped up in bandages and only his voice is heard.
Griffin is a great scientist who has discovered a formula for invisibility. There’s only one problem: he can’t become visible. Griffin has tried desperately to find a cure but has so far failed. To make matters worse, one of the drugs he used in his invisibility formula has driven him insane.
After fleeing the inn, Griffin finds fellow colleague Dr. Kemp (William Harrigan) and sort of forces him to help Griffin. Then Griffin decides that what he really needs to do is terrorize the world for a ransom. Kemp betrays Griffin and calls Dr. Cranley (Henry Travers) for help, then the police. An enraged Griffin goes on a murderous rampage, derailing trains and killing hundreds. The police are desperate to capture Griffin, but how can anyone capture an invisible man?
James Whale directed Universal’s big hits Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein, so he was a natural choice to helm The Invisible Man for Universal. The effects are still quite good: some of it is strings and wires but there’s also a very early version of green screen matting.
The Invisible Man is fantastic. Four sequels made but none of them come close to the original. Speaking of original’s, here’s my original post on the film from way back in 2011.