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The Whole World's My Hiding Place! The Invisible Man
May 13, 2004 (Updated May 13, 2004)
Review by George Chabot
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Direction, Story, Acting, Special Effects, DVD Extras
Cons:With all the CGI available today, they really haven't topped this
The Bottom Line: You will be amazed at the special effects and the DVD explains how they were done. See The Invisible Man!
"I meddled in things that man must leave alone." Jack Griffin
Recommend this product?
One of the original Universal Studios classic horror films, directed by James Whale (Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein), The Invisible Man (1933) is an atmospheric thriller that takes the genre to a new level of complexity, both in technical execution and witty dialog.
Starring Claude Rains (Adventures of Robin Hood, Casablanca, Lawrence of Arabia) in his first of many great film appearances, the story follows the standard "mad scientist" plot established in Frankenstein but escalates it to plans of world domination by the protagonist whose serum that makes him invisible also makes him criminally insane.
The story moves forward at a relentless pace with shocking murders alternating with light hearted mischief from the malevolent but witty scientist Jack Griffin. His delusions of grandeur start to unravel once the invisible man realizes he needs a confederate Dr. Kemp (James Harrigan) to further his nefarious scheme. You see, Griffin needs to be naked to become invisible. Since the film is set in Winter, he obviously can stay outside only a limited time. Any food he eats needs to be digested or it will be visible inside him as will any dirt or precipitation on his skin.
Like all good monster movies, The Invisible Man is set in Europe; England to be exact, and the sets and costuming have that Victorian elegance that make the film more enjoyable than if it were in a more mundane setting.
A bevy of fine actors including Frankenstein alumnus Dwight Frye make up the cast with many of the actors going on to further success in films like The Bride of Frankenstein and The Wolf Man. Una O'Connor is a standout as the screaming inkeeper's wife whose over the top performance adds appreciably to the fun. Gloria Stuart plays the beauty that balances the protagonist adding a beauty and the beast element that was often a part of the classic monster pictures. The cops are of the Keystone variety and make many humorous attempts to capture the villain. Watch for the one who spray paints the cat! But the film would not have the impact it retains without the commanding voice of Claude Rains who went on to become one of our greatest character actors.
The special effects are unparalleled for the time and have hardly been topped, even in this day of computer generated graphics. Director James Whale was a special effects genius before special effects became a separate discipline. The DVD explains that Rains was photographed wearing black velvet in front of a black velvet backdrop for the invisible effects which are frankly amazing. Picture a pair of empty pants skipping down the road or an empty but obviously embodied shirt taunting police and pelting them with objects from around the room. Very impressive, and you will catch yourself wondering "how did they do that?"
The DVD is part of the Universal Classic Horror collection and is presented in 1.33:1 theatrical format. The extras include a full length commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer, a 35-minute "making of" documentary that reveals many of the secrets, and production photographs.
The Invisible Man will be a worthy addition to your DVD collection.
Other early Universal Horror films you'll want to see
The Wolf Man
Watch a good horror film soon!
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