|Index||4 reviews in total|
This was a pretty good documentary about Universal's Invisible Man
series. It goes into the most detail about the first one, with looks at
HG Well's novel, director James Whale, lead actor Claude Rains. It does
cover the other Universal Invisible Man movies, but doesn't look at
other adaptations of Wells' novel. It also goes into some of the tricks
that were used to create the appearance of an invisible man.
There are interviews with film historians, some of the living people involved with the films, or at least their friends or family members. They all have something interesting or funny to say. Claude Rains' daughter tells a tale of how her father took her to see the movie, and he was bundled up much like his character.
Also interesting was how The Invisible Man followed Whale's Frankenstein with certain plot elements retried in similar ways, trying to get them better. It's also asserted that the film part draws from the novel The Murderer Invisible by Philip Wylie.
Nice featurette from the first Invisible Man DVD, as well as subsequent
DVD releases. It covers the history of the Invisible Man films from
Universal buying the rights from H.G. Wells through the 1940s films and
even a mention for the Amazon Women on the Moon skit spoofing the film.
Oddly, not much time is spent on the original Wells novel. Instead, a
lot of time is spent discussing the life and career of director James
Whale. Included are clips from "Gods and Monsters," as well as
interviews with that film's director and star. So it would be fair to
say this is a documentary short about James Whale as much as about the
Invisible Man. There is also some focus on the great Claude Rains,
whose daughter Jessica appears and shares some pleasant anecdotes. That
was probably the highlight for me.
It's a good featurette, as all of the original Universal horror DVD shorts were. It could have used more focus on the film than Whale but I understand why they chose to do that. The Frankenstein one just had too much stuff going on to fit it in. Also, "Gods and Monsters" was new at the time this was made. Ideally, there could have been a short devoted to Whale and one devoted to the film but, in the end, it doesn't matter much. All that matters is that this one is informative and entertaining.
As a monster kid from way back, I enjoy much of the attention and adulation that these movies have garnered over the years. But what has always been a pet peeve is that some of the "lesser" films like The Invisible Man, The Mummy, The Old Dark House, etc...never get the same kind of pomp as Dracula and Frankenstein. I can understand why, but films like these have had just as much a powerful if not indeed more subtle influence. Well, here David Skaal, making documentaries for the big Universal horror films for DVD release around 2000, does his tribute for James Whale's revolutionary science fiction film - a film that had breakthrough technology at the time, used the Whale style to perfection, and made Claude Rains into a star. It had four sequels - granted only the second one near the quality of this, but all were fun. It had countless imitations as recent as the horrible Hollow Man and its sequel. This documentary chronicles the production of the film fusing anecdotal history with facts. We get interviews with some second-hand observers like Jessica Rains(telling a wonderful story about how her father took her to see this film for the first time as a child, Curtis Harrington(who had met and knew James Whale), and some film historians. There are plentiful scenes too. The documentary runs 35 minutes and though I found their analysis of the first film quite good, the rest of the sequels are lucky enough to get a mention. I would have liked to have seen some more on them as they are the films least known. Skaal does a great job with these documentaries as evidenced by the wonderful ones completed for Dracula, Frankenstein, and even The Mummy, but this one falls a little short on their scale. It definitely left me wanting to see more.
Now You See Him: The Invisible Man Revealed! (2000)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
Another terrific documentary from Universal with this one covering James Whale's 1933 THE INVISIBLE MAN. This was originally released when that film first hit DVD but it has been paired with the film on other releases. We start off learning the history of the novel and then we get down to how Universal ended up with the rights. The film's production is gone through with a fine comb as we learn how Claude Rains was cast as well as hearing certainly issues the studio had as well as trouble with the special effects. Rudy Behlmer, Curtis Harrington< Paul Jensen, Bill Condon, David Skal and Jessica Rains are among the folks interviewed and all add nice bits of history to the making of the film. Some of the best moments come with Claude's daughter who shares her memories of what her father told her about the role and this includes the story of his original test being so awful that he was shocked anyone would be interested in him. Funny to think that considering all the major classics that he would go onto appear in. The documentary also spends quite a bit of time on Whale and how he originally made this picture to try and get Universal to make his dream project, which he would eventually make but well under the intended budget. Whale's opinion on the horror genre is discussed and we also hear about the original objections by H.G. Wells and how he wasn't happy with how Paramount handled ISLAND OF LOST SOULS. Fans of the film are going to learn a lot about the making of the film and the interviews are priceless. Highly recommended to those interested in the film or its sequel(s).
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