Upon watching “The Invisible Man” (1933), it’s not difficult to figure out why Universal Studios dominated the horror-film genre from the 1920’s through the 1940’s. Combining solid scripts with great directors and actors, Universal made science-fiction seem very believable. Based on the story by H.G. Wells, “The Invisible Man” will be seen (and not seen) on Saturday, June 25th at 10 pm on ME-TV (channel 31). Directed by James Whale, “The Invisible Man” stars Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, William Harrigan and Henry Travers. Although the title character cannot accurately be described as a monster, the success of “The Invisible Man” places him in the same elite category occupied by Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s monster.
An inn located in the British countryside is visited by a mysterious stranger, whose facial features are completely hidden by bandages and sun glasses. Demanding total privacy, the man never leaves his room, but when his behavior provokes the innkeeper to demand he vacate the premises, the stranger tears off his bandages, revealing the fact that he is, in reality, an invisible man, and not a very nice one at that. Laughing maniacally, he throws the innkeeper down the stairs, and attempts to strangle a policeman before escaping into the night. The invisible man is actually a scientist named Dr. Jack Griffin (Rains) who has stumbled upon the secret in invisibility while experimenting with the new drug, “monocane.” It’s Griffin’s hope that he can force his one -time partner, Dr Kemp (Harrigan) into helping him perfect his discovery, which he feels could be the key to unlimited power. Griffin’s invisibility has two drawbacks….monocane only renders the body invisible, forcing Griffin to wander around without clothes, and, more importantly, the process is slowly driving him insane.
Notes: H. G. Wells, who wrote “The Invisible Man” in 1897, was not completely happy with the Hollywood version of his work. Although Wells said he liked the film, he wasn’t pleased that the title character was portrayed as a lunatic, rather than a brilliant scientist. Director Whale defended the depiction, saying that, “in the minds of rational people, only a lunatic would want to make himself invisible anyway.” Wells was more enthusiastic over the 1938 radio adaptation of his novel, “War of the Worlds” despite the widespread panic it caused. Upon meeting Orson Welles, the man who produced the “War of the Worlds” broadcast, H.G. Wells thanked the American actor/producer for increasing the sales of one of his more “obscure titles.”