Invisible Man [1933]

Director: James Whale
Stars: Vincent Ventresca, Paul Ben-Victor, Shannon Kenny, Eddie Jones, Michael McCafferty
Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
Rating: Unrated
Runtime: 1056 minutes

Claude Rains practically owns his film debut in The Invisible Man, despite the fact that his face (let alone his body) is seen only for seconds in the final moments. As the brilliant scientist who discovers the secret of invisibility, Rains steps into the film wrapped up like a mummy behind a layer of bandages and blanketed in heavy clothes. When he removes his garments, there's nothing underneath, a simple but effective bit of 1930s movie magic that, apart from a few glitches, works as well today as it did in 1933. Like Frankenstein, another cautionary tale of science gone horribly wrong, the consequences of the doctor's experiments are dire: the chemicals drive him insane. Director James Whale infuses the film with plenty of humor, much of it arising from the quaint quirks of the local villagers, but it turns to black comedy as the doctor transforms from an impish prankster upsetting bicycles and taunting tavern patrons to a megalomaniac bent on world domination. It's slow going even at 71 minutes, but full of delightful touches and boasts a terrific performance by the all but unseen Rains, whose rich, cultured voice envelopes the picture in a kind of omnipresent fog. Vincent Price took up the role in the sequel, The Invisible Man Returns. --Sean Axmaker

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