Monday, November 30, 2009

The Invisible Man (1933)

A frustrated scientist discovers a drug that will make him invisible. The side-effect is that it also makes him nuts. Oh, and he has no idea how to make himself visible again, which, at the very least, is a problem in his love life. So he rents a room at a quiet country inn and sets about in a make shift laboratory trying to figure out how to reverse the effects of his "condition." Claude Rains plays the mad scientist who after a few days of invisibility decides that it's all he needs to take over the world. He sets about on a campaign of murder and terror to prove his point.

The great irony of the Invisible Man is that the scientist feels invisible when he is actually visible and powerful when he is in invisible. To further add to the wacky, this is all in his head. He has a fiancee who adores him, a mentor who cares for him like a son and the jealous, grudging respect of colleagues.

Rains made a career out of playing insecure men. Think of his most famous roles as the jealous Nazi in Notorious and the corrupt French policeman who is called to take a moral stand in Casablanca. These men use their power in cowardly ways to cover up some kind of inadequacy and to get the women they ordinarily wouldn't be able to get. In the end, it's their undoing. If there's a lesson to be learned here, it's that dating outside one's league always leads to trouble. One minute you are having your honeymoon, the next she's being dragged from your house by her super hot spy boyfriend.

In The Invisible Man, this deeply ingrained feeling of inadequacy, normally a controllable if unpleasant neurosis, blossoms into full-on ca-razy complete with long periods where the dude does nothing but cackle insanely and make footprints in the mud. While this is a horror movie, I think the horror lies in the first few times we glimpse the emptiness beneath the bandages and the creepy feeling that you could be in a room with someone you can't see. A lot of the effects border on silly rather than scary--a policeman gets pantsed, a pipe smokes itself. Of course, the invisible man does really nasty things like murdering a cop and derailing a train, just to shake things up.

I watched this entire movie and I had completely forgotten that I hadn't actually seen Claude Rain's face until the last frame of the film. His voice so completely embodies the character that we forget that we can't see him. For those of who remember Rains primarily for his roles in the 1940s, it's a shock and surprise to see him here looking so young and handsome when at last he is finally visible.


SteveQ said...

I agree with all you said, but you have me worried now, as I'm dating way out of my league. Maybe I could feel reassured if I kept an eye on her, unobserved of course - invisibility would come in handy. Wait, isn't that the movie, only backwards?

Jennythenipper said...

Ha! If you learned nothing from the Invisible man it should be that invisibility is bad for your love life. As long as your girlfriend isn't Ingrid Bergman you should be fine.

AbbyNormal said...

Never seen this one. Sounds ... interesting. :-)

Jimmy Jarred said...

Wow. This is the most popular movie of that time. It is so old and I am so excited that I can found links to watch it online in your blog. Thank you for sharing.
Watch The Invisible Man Online