In spite of cinema's most successful effort yet to depict it, invisibility is not a very cinegenic subject. Even James Whale's 1933 wonderful "The Invisible Man", based on the novella by H.G. Wells, also had to rely on a voice and special effects, in compensation for the absence of the leading character on screen. Since the invisible entities cannot be photographed, the action centers on the capacity of special effects and sound, as well as the reaction of the rest of the cast, to keep us interested for most of the running time. In 1958 there were two releases dealing with the condition: the horror sci-fi filler "Fiend Without a Face" (not very good, don't be misled by Criterion), which is the better known, and this almost forgotten Mexican production that apparently was conceived as an ambitious project, considering the artists and crew involved. It even starts promisingly, as a scientist shows his future wife where they will build their home, and they both imagine how it will look inside. The scientist is played by Arturo de Córdova (best known for Buñuel's "Él" and Wood's "For Whom the Bell Tolls"), reprising the role of the man who becomes invisible and mad, as in Wells' novella. Conceived by Alfredo Salazar, scriptwriter of several classic Mexican horror films, and adapted by playwright Julio Alejandro (who wrote "Nazarín", "Viridiana" and other scripts for Buñuel), the story also owes a bit to "Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man": the Mexican has been wrongly accused (and sentenced) for a murder he did not commit, and he uses his invisibility to clear his name. But De Córdova becomes religiously nuts, a mixture of the Exterminating Angel of God and Klaatu, threatening humanity with poisoning. For a change, the film ends rather well, considering all the many people that get killed in 90 minutes, and that we have to endure the slow pacing, to show off the special effects. For De Córdova's other famous roles, don't miss "La diosa arrodillada", "Dios se lo pague", "In the Palm of Your Hand" and the very enjoyable "The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales".
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