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The Invisible Man is great entertainment with a classic performance by
Claude Rains as the title character. Rains plays a scientist who discovers
the secret of invisibility and becomes invisible himself. He flees to a
small town to try to become visible again before the side effect of madness
set in. He fails and goes on a homicidal rampage. Rains dominates the
screen time, despite not being visible until the very end, and gives one the
most entertaining and over the top performances in film history. The
terrific script gives him several opportunities to show off his superb voice
and he brilliantly conveys psychosis and delusions of grandeur. The effects
are memorable. Rains laughing maniacally with no head is a movie moment
fixed in my mind. The supporting cast is excellent. Una O'Connor is
typically entertaining as the annoying and hysterical wife of the owner of
the hotel where Rains stays and William Harrigan does a nice job of
portraying the fear and hysteria that would come with being the target of an
invisible man. The movie also features the other memorable role of Gloria
Stuart, old Rose of Titanic fame, who was quite a looker in her day. Great
dialogue with a great script, fantastic effects and a career defining
performance by Rains.
What a great show this was. Claude Rains plays Jack Griffin, a scientist who
discovers a formula with which he renders himself invisible. The only side
effect of the drug is that it also slowly drives the subject
The special effects are terrible, in many cases it's laughably obvious how they were created, but you need to remember that this film is almost 70 years old! For special effects like those in The Invisible Man to have been created in the early 1930s, when even SOUND was still fairly new, is extremely impressive.
Even though the structure of The Invisible Man was fairly simple, there were elements of the story that showed how well thought out the movie was. Griffin points out that dirt on his feet, snow on his shoulders, and even dirt under his fingernails would be enough to give him away. He needs to wait a certain amount of time after he eats because until his food is fully digested, it is still visible (THAT would have been interesting to see).
With The Invisible Man, James Whale has delivered yet another masterpiece, and I think that this is among the better ones. The film has definitely dated; the black and white photography is gritty, the camera movements are often jumpy, and the dialogue has that "old movie" scratchy sound to it, but none of these things should discourage anyone from watching this excellent film. It is one of the establishing films of horror/thriller history, and it should not be missed.
In recent years, we, the moviegoing audience, have seen many "adaptations"
of novels that just...weren't. Granted, sometimes the results are
(the most recent version of Great Expectations blew me away), but most
adaptations of books twist the original book's plot and premise into a
pretzel that usually only resembles it in name.
Thankfully, back in 1933, James Whale did an expert job in adapting H.G. Wells' classic novel, THE INVISIBLE MAN. Contrary to many of the later versions of this classic literary character, the original was nothing but a total SOB in the novel and that's how Claude Rains (in his screen debut) plays him, as insane and unsympathetic. The only thing that I felt was missing was Griffin's letter in the original proclaiming "the reign of the Invisible Man" and calling himself "Invisible Man the First".
I see him as a cross between (to use another couple of classic characters reinvented by Whale) Frankenstein and Frankenstein's monster. He didn't become a monster by choice, but the point is made forcefully clear that he has no one but himself to blame for the mess he's in. He doesn't take it too well when people finally get a little too prying (but then, he hasn't exactly been a gracious guest, either) and begins his reign of terror through a set of some of the most extraordinary special effects work of any era (my favorite being the scene where Griffen skips along in nothing but a pair of trousers, singing a cheerful tune).
The movie belongs to, hands down, Rains, whose portrayal of the anti-social, arrogant scientist is right on the money from beginning to end. The only places I feel it falters is when the obligatory love interest (played by Gloria Stuart) starts appealing to his sensitive side and his last lines about interfering with the work of God. The Griffin of the novel would have written off such concerns as trivial and pointless, but anything to make Universal and the censors happy, yes? Still, it's a film well worth the price of admission.
Director: James Whale, Novel: H.G. Wells, Script: R.C. Sheriff, Cast:
Claude Rains (The Invisible One, Jack Griffen), Gloira Stuart (Flora
Cranley), William Harrigan (Dr. Arthur Kemp), Henry Travers (Dr.
Cranley), Una O'Connor (Jenny Hill-innkeeper's wife), Forrester Harvey
The Invisible Man is one of Universal's best 'monster' films of the 1930's and is among James Whale's best work. Dr Griffen is being incarcerated for a crime he did not commit. Dr. Arthur Kemp accused him of killing a wealthy owner of a coal mine(his name slips me at the moment) so he can gain control of his fortune, he must have been a partner in the company. Anyhow, Dr. Griffen had devised a formula to make himself invisible. This allows him to escape from jail and get revenge on Dr. Kemp, his former associate. There is one catch, the formula makes him go crazy. This leaves for some interesting and often humorous results.
I find some of the old films rather amazing. When a film from this era is watched, one must view it in the context in which it was made. When people first saw this on the big screen back in 1933 they must have been amazed. Perhaps primitive by today's standard, the special effects are still pretty neat. This film has it all, elements if suspense, horror and Whale's trademark humour. Claude Rains was an excellent casting choice for the part of the invisible one. He had the perfect voice for the part. In the first remake, The Invisible Man Returns, Vincent Price plays the invisible man. His performance is good but again he just doesn't have the right voice nor is he mean enough! James Whale often casts Una O'Connor in his movies. People familiar with the Universal horror pictures will know her from the Frankenstein movies. She ads the humour elements to this movie. Many people will recognize Henry Travers (Dr Cranley) as the guardian angel from Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life. Also, we have a much younger Gloria Stuart, she played the old lady in the beginning of Titanic. This is a great old horror and sci-fi film.
James Whale was the king of 1930's horror films beginning with
FRANKENSTEIN. Countless monster movies ensued, but another eye-catcher,
THE INVISIBLE MAN, brought to the screen good special effects and a new
star: Claude Rains. There have been many Invisible Man flicks, but this
tops them. A new interest in director Whale has been generated by the
current release GODS AND MONSTERS, an account of Whale's last days, as
portrayed by Oscar nominee Ian McKellan. Another keeper: Gloria Stuart
is the co-star. Yes, old 'Rose' from TITANIC was alive and pretty in
the 1930's, playing blonde bombshells.
The invisible effects are quite good and are as impressive as John Carpenter's special effects in MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN, the dreadful 1992 Chevy Chase vehicle. I was reminded of Jack Nicholson's "Joker" from BATMAN when Rains removes his headcloth and shrieks with evil glee. Its decent, entertaining schlock for a rainy night and you pretty much forget it once it is over. What a way to start a career: the invisible Mr. Rains. When we finally see him, you get the chills.
RATING: 6 of 10
Distinguished character actor Claude Raines was "The Invisible Man"
back in 1933 and, at age 46, it was his American debut in films. This
all-time classic was directed by James Whale and has some astonishing
special effects. It's the story of a scientist fooling around with
chemicals and as a result, he's rendered invisible - and crazy, and
getting crazier by the minute. He's determined to find the formula that
will get him back to being seen, so in a disguise, he takes refuge in
an inn where he can work. The disguise consists of a raincoat, gloves,
pants, shirt, bandages, a fake nose, sunglasses and a wig.
Unfortunately, he starts getting rough with both the staff and the
room, and soon he's on the run, naked so no one can see him, killing as
he goes and playing pranks, such as taking a cash drawer from a bank
and then throwing the money around for people to catch.
We don't get to see Raines until the end, but we hear his masterful voice and really lunatic laugh. The effects are fantastic especially considering it's 1933, and lots of imagination was needed to make up for the lack of technology. People are swung into mid-air with nothing underneath, footprints appear in the snow with nobody apparently making them, a cash drawer hangs in the air - wonderful stuff.
This was a perfect role for Raines as the character's voice and dramatic ability is so important. He would go on to become one of the really great actors in films and would continue working until about two years before he died in 1967, at nearly 78.
The girl he leaves behind is beautiful, classy Gloria Stuart who played a series of gorgeous ingénues in films. 64 years later, she wowed them in Titanic.
Truly a vintage film from Universal.
One of the best I have ever seen. It has humor and wit. And also a
serious touch. What I appreciate most about the movie is the black
humor, so to speak. The kind of humor you can find in Hitchcock movies.
I love when he exclaims "Power, I say!" He is addressing his wife just like Hitler must have done during his table talks. Hilarious.
And when his trousers are singing "Here we go gathering nuts in May..." Fabulous!
I also love when he is distributing money outside that bank..."Pop goes the weasle". What a naughty little man...
That funny little woman is in the movie too, the one who brings the food up to his room. I saw her in "The Bride Of Frankenstein" as well.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Invisible Man is one of my favorite movies of all time.Claude Rains,of course,delivers a superb performance.I also like the fact that Gloria Stewart plays Flora unlike other actors play similar roles.She's really a fine actor.Harigian's role was colorless and un-interesting but Rains made up for it with his class A acting.The special effects,considering it is 1933,were flawless.The film followed Wells' novel very closely.James Whale went a little overboard with Unna O'Connor and E.E.Clive should have had a bigger role but those are just minor problems,nothing to freak out over.It's still one of the greatest movies of all time.Overall:10 stars
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jack Griffin, a research chemist experimenting with a dangerous drug
called monocaine, has perfected a serum which turns him invisible. The
downside is that he cannot reverse the process and the effects of the
drug have unhinged his mind ...
Based on the tremendous novel by H.G. Wells, this is one of four classic thirties Universal horror movies made by the very talented Whale. What is perhaps most striking about this film is how utterly loathsome its protagonist is - Griffin is a thoroughly nasty piece of work with absolutely no redeeming features at all. As played by Rains, he's vain, rude, egotistical, bad-tempered, selfish, petty, vicious, distrusting, sneaky and callous - what a charmer. It is a terrific story of course, and as an exercise in technical film-making it's extremely impressive for its time - the invisible man opens doors, throws things around, smokes a cigarette and dances in his nightshirt, thanks to stunning photographic effects work by John P. Fulton. It's hard to enjoy the movie as a drama though, since the characters are all either very unpleasant or dolts, or both. There are plenty of scary and funny sequences to make up for this however, and lots of memorable dialogue ("Even the moon is frightened of me !!"). As with Whale's earlier Frankenstein, this film influenced a hundred subsequent invisible man pictures. Watch out for three cool unbilled walk-ons; Walter Brennan as a man with a bicycle, Dwight Frye as a reporter and John Carradine making a crank phone call to the coppers.
This movie rules and Claude Rains is the man. I've been watching this movie since I was little and channel 5 ran the old Universal horror films around Thanksgiving every year. The title basically explains all you need to know about the movie, but there is a lot more than just an invisible man. This film showcased things missing from most horror films of the 30's in that there is humor, not to mention groundbreaking special effects for the time. Claude Rains does a masterful job of playing the brilliant young scientist gone mad. One wonders how Claude got the character's cynical wit, his being a proper Englishman and all that. Overall, it's a great horror thriller from the old days. Bottom Line: This movie is one of the finer examples of early Universal horror, and deserves a showing in your home.
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