Joey Faust is a career criminal, a man to whom locks mean nothing, and a recent escapee from prison--with the help of Major Paul Krenner and his femme fatale Laura Matson. Joey doesnt know why the Major has broken him out of prison, but at the time he didnt seem the kind of thing to question. But when Laura gets Joey back to the Majors rural ranch, all is revealed.
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The Major doesnt have friends, nor really employees--instead hes got people around him who feel forced to work for him. Julian the guard and right-hand man believes Krenner has information about his son, so he sticks around in hopes of learning his whereabouts. Lauras just looking for a free ride. And Dr. Peter Ulof is held prisoner to Krenner by his daughter Maria, whom Krenner keeps locked in a room in the attic. Krenner is using Ulofs genius to create an invisibility ray hell then sell to the highest bidder to help create an invisible army. But acquiring some of the materials they need in order to perfect the machine will take a man with the kind of skills Joey Faust possesses.
So Ulof renders Joey invisible, Joey steals what Ulof needs for his invention, and Krenner lets them both live. Until Joey, a real charmer, worms his way in with Laura and, later, Julian, double crossing the Major, but with good intent. Joey only wants enough money to flee the country and, possibly, take his own daughter with him, and as for the others, once hes done with Krenner, theyll be free to go, too. But when Ulofs machine, which is slowly poisoning Joey with radiation, doesnt work as well as theyd hoped and Joey becomes visible again in the middle of a robbery, the plan must be pushed up and action taken immediately. In the end, all that radiation and lasers leaves a pretty big hole in the ground.
THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN, released in 1960, is 57 minutes of pure stupid. I mean that in a good way. Douglas Kennedy (Joey Faust) and James Griffith (Paul Krenner) are not good actors. Kennedy projects a definite smarminess that comes off as too intentional, put-on; you can see the acting from a mile away. And Griffith alternates between being the man in control and being the man about to lose his sht. His frightened face when Joey knocks him around after becoming invisible for the first time is riotous, but the fight between them at the end, when Krenner is wailing on Joeys back like a confused ape, then screaming like a 4-year-old girl at the sight of a spider in her bed when Joey gets the upper hand is just friggin hilarious.
Jack Lewis (who also is listed as an uncredited writer of BILLY THE KID VERSUS DRACULA) has simply tossed together a plot, but not thought through the mechanics very well. For example, Krenner keeps Ulofs daughter locked in the attic--but Ulofs lab is in the attic as well, and Marias room is just off to one side of it, so Ulofs pretty much working alongside his daughter all day. Theres nothing to stop him from just slipping a note to her under the door. And on Joeys first night there, he tries to get Julians attention so the henchman will come into the room and Joey can attack him. How does he get Julians attention? By scraping his drinking glass against the wall. What? Hey, whatever, man.
The effects were decent enough, I guess, watching a guinea pig, and then Joey, become invisible. You couldnt see the strings on the items invisible Joey carries around, but the fight scene with invisible Joey knocking out a security guard were embarrassing to watch. Its not Sonny Corleone Vs. Carlo Rizzi bad, but still pretty bad.
And yet . . . theres something overall charming about this movie. I know its crap, but Ive seen it three times now and will probably, eventually, see it again. I know part of that is my affinity for bad movies, but despite its cheese factor, there is something very watchable about THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN, and I just havent figured out yet what it is. I suspect it may have something to do with the characters and how, in the end, theyve all gone through the growth necessary for a successful story. Julian and Laura betray Krenner, Ulof is freed, and even Joey goes back one last time to do the right thing. That is very satisfying to me and shows that, even though there were holes galore in the plot, someone was paying enough attention to care about the characters and give the audience something to cheer for in the end.
I think all of these factors balance each other out pretty well, which earns this movie a solid 3 stars. At this stage, considering the quality weve seen so far in this series, Ill take what I can get.
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