An invisible man can rule the world. Nobody will see him come, nobody will see him go. He can hear every secret. He can rob, and wreck, and kill!
Choosing a movie to open and close is hard-very, very hard. My drama teacher always told us the opening, before intermission, after intermission, and the closing are the most important-basically the opening and closing are what people remember. If you goof, make a mistake, or something doesn’t quite go right-they will forgive. As long as the begining is good and the end is powerful. That’s a lot of pressure.
I was very unsure what to do-
But then I had an idea. I read the book The Invisible Man and did not like it. I had never seen the film-in fact it is the only classic Universal Film I have yet to review.
That being the case, it is the perfect one to end on. Will it be as good as the other classic films? Will it be better than the book? Will it be worse? Hmmm…?
When screenwriter R.C. Sherriff came to Hollywood to write this film, he asked the staff at Universal for a copy of the H.G. Wells novel he was supposed to be adapting. They didn’t have one; all they had were 14 “treatments” done by previous writers on the project, including one set in Czarist Russia and another set on Mars. Sherriff eventually found a copy of the novel in a secondhand bookstore, read it, thought it would make an excellent picture as it stood, and wrote a script that was a closer adaptation of the book.
But there is one thing they did to help-they gave him a girlfriend. Having a girlfriend is very important to this character who otherwise is crazy, cruel, maniacal, evil, etc. The girlfriend humanizes him-when they are together we see there is more to him-another softer side, he isn’t just a monster.
So everyone wanted Boris Karloff to play the lead-but he turned it down as the character isn’t really on screen. The director overheard Claude Rains auditioning for another part and thought he was perfect. Rains had never been in a film before this, only stage acting, and did it perfectly as his voice was clear-even in all the costuming.
So let’s do the review:
A stranger arrives in the snow to the small village of Iping. All stop when they see how strange he looks-dressed in much heavier clothing than one would even in the cold. He wants a room.
They are more of a summer place, but agree to give him a room to sleep and an extra room-for his experiments.
The townspeople are wary of him-after all what innocent person covers themselves and tries to obscure thier identity. When the owner’s wife brings Griffin his dinner she sees that half of Griffin’s face is GONE!!
They didn’t have the technology we have today, so in order to make Rains invisible they dressed him in a full black bodysuit and placed him in front of a black screen.
Elsewhere, Dr. Cranley (Henry Travers) is woking in his laboratory. Dr. Cranely is Griffin’s mentor and his daughter Flora (Gloria Stuart) was engaged to him. Both are puzzled by his disappearance, and Flora is extremely worried about him, as she hasn’t heard from him in over a month. Dr. Arthur Kemp-Griffin’s friend and the other worker in Dr. Cranely’s lab, has also had zero word. And because Griffin was always working in secret, none know even what he was doing, so no clues where to find him.
A week later, Griffin is still at the inn working trying to find his way “back”. The only one who goes into the rooms is Jenny, the innkeeper’s wife. She doesn’t want Grifffin here-she wants him gone as his rooms are a mess, he is incredibly mean, and just creepy.
When they try to get him out, Griffin refuses and tosses the innkeeper down the stairs. They call the police. Constable Jaffers (E.E. Clive) comes to arrest him, but then Griffin does what no one expected.
Griffin attacks the men guarding the door and then takes off.
So this where I have a problem in the book. All the other classic monsters had something that made you feel for them. The Phantom? Thrown out because disfigured, abused, mistreated, used, and people have tried to kill him because he is ugly. Finds a girl who he thinks loves him but doesn’t care a fig about him-you understand why he goes all crazy. Dr. Frankenstein wants to help humanity, believes he knows better than God, but learns his harsh lesson. His monster is just trying t make it but people are afraid and trying to kill him. In Bride of Frankenstein? Frankenstein wants to live his life but blackmailed into creating another monster. Frankenstein’s monster just wants love. The Mummy is crazy and bad, but his main goal is to bring his love back to life. Dracula is an evil monster, but very charming. The Wolf man, poor guy just trying to reconnect with his dad, grieve his brother, and take over family business-wrong place wrong time. The Creature from the Black Lagoon? Just wants love.
Griffin is not charming, he’s not trying to help people, he’s not looking for love. He’s a wackadoo murderer-evil, insane, cold, etc.
Dr. Cranely and Kemp go through Griffin’s stuff to try and find clues to where he is. They do find a list of drugs, one being monocaine, which destroys everything and turns whatever creature that gets into it-insane.
Griffin goes to Kemp as he needs help. He threatens him and blackmails him into being his errand boy. Griffin and Kemp discuss what happened and Griffin tells him he started working his experiments five years ago. He threatens Kemp to get his notes for him so that he can create the antidote.
The Chief Detective starts investigating and questioning people. Meanwhile, Kemp and Griffin head to the inn to get the notes. Griffin gets his stuff and attacks the Detective, killing him. This causes more panic and hysteria.
The police murder has lit a fire under them and they begin searching for Griffin. They start looking 20 miles in all directions and more and more volunteers join in. At 10:30pm radio broadcast goes out and warns everyone that it isn’t a hoax. A reward for £1000.00 is offered.
Dr. Kemp is worried and calls Dr. Cranely to tell him about Griffin and warns him that Griffin has gone crazy. Dr. Cranely tells Kemp to take care to keep him there and that he will be there the next day. Kemp calls the police to tell them Griffin is in his house. Griffin becomes enraged at him for telling in him.
Flora goes to see Griffin and here we have a shred of humanity as he softens toward her and we see a sliver of the man he was-the one Flora fell in love with. But then he is gone and only the crazed killer remains.
One who has created this invisibility and wants to auction it off to the highest bidder.
While they are talking the police arrive. Griffin escapes and flees, but not before he tells Kemp he will murder him at 10:00 pm. The police come up with a plan as to how they will catch him. They will use Kemp as bait, but Kemp doesn’t like that idea. He takes off in his car but Griffin is already waiting there. He ties him up and pushes Kemp and the car off the cliff.
Griffin stays in a barn that night and a farmer spots the hay moving and calls the police. They decide to burn down the barn and follow the Invisible Man’s footprints on the snow to take aim. He’s hit and as he does his body is revealed slowly.
I thought it was pretty good, but let’s be honest it wouldn’t be nearly as good if it wasn’t for Claude Rains.
The thing that is mindblowing is the special effects. Really good for 1933. So there we go I have reviewed all of the Universal Classic Monster Films!
There we go. All 31 posts finished! Yay!
I hope you all have a fantastic and safe Halloween!
To start Horrorfest VII from the beginning, go to It’s the End of the World: The Birds (1963)
For the previous post, go to Mr. Hyde Versus the Werewolf: Dr. Jekyll Versus the Werewolf (1972)
For more Claude Rains, go to Even a Man Pure of Heart: The Wolf Man (1941)
For more mad scientists, go to Nowhere to Hyde: Scooby-Doo Where Are You? (1970)