50/50 Review #38: The Invisible Man (1933).

Due to some Netflix and/or postal service issues, I had to rearrange some films for this month. So I began with the one film available on Instant Streaming, which also happened to be the one film I was looking least forward to this month. The Invisible Man follows the story of a scientist named Jack (Claude Rains) who goes crazy after an experiment turns him invisible. He wants to rule the world by doing whatever he wants, like commit murders, and even turns to Dr. Kemp (William Harrigan) for assitance, despite Kemp not wanting anything to do with it.

The worst thing about this film is the acting from anyone not named Claude Rains. The most annoying by far was Una O'Connor as a co-owner of this bar Jack lives above at the start of the film. You know that scene in Clue where Mrs. Peacock thinks she's been poisons and gives a shrill, annoying scream until she's slapped? Imagine that shrill, over-the-top scream for 25 straight minutes rather than 10 seconds. If I didn't have to watch this film for this project, I would have turned it off in that first 25 minutes for that alone. It was the most unbearable, annoying character I think I've ever seen.

That being said, it does start to get better after that. Most of that is actually thanks to Claude Rains, whose mostly vocal performance is pretty fun. Also, the visuals of the film are interesting--some fascinating--due to the time period it was made. Any of the invisibility tricks (including the ending shot) are in particular great.

On the whole, though, the film is just kinda dull. There's some interesting aspects, but when you don't give a damn about any of the characters, it's hard to care about the story. No character is three dimensional (...no pun intended?). And you don't get to know Jack before he becomes invisible, so he's already crazy by the time he's introduced. Because of that, you don't care about him, his transition or journey as a character, his relationships with other people, or really anything about him. And the people he associates with are pretty one-note, as I mentioned before. It's just either cops that are coming after him, a guy who won't work with him, or the woman he once loved who still loves him. (Fun fact: this character is played by Gloria Stuart, who you might know as Old Rose in Titanic. Funnily enough, her character's name here is Flora... as in plants and flowers. And she's in love with a guy named Jack. After almost 70 years in film, she really didn't expand her range much, huh?) Anyway, if you're into those classic "monster movie" types, it's fine. I just wished it had a lot more to it.

Feed Me, Seymour!


  1. This is about right. I like this a little more than you do, but only a little, and all because of Claude Rains.

    Una O'Connor shows up a lot in old films and often as the same character. She's the old crazy townswoman in Bride of Frankenstein and Maid Marion's nurse in the old Errol Flynn version of Robin Hood. She can be entertaining, but she was really an actress without a lot of range.

    1. Yeah, Claude Rains was the best part.

      I read that about Una O'Connor. She seems to split people. Either people love her for the over-the-top comedy... or people are really put off by her. For me it was more the voice. I could find her over-the-top reactions to stuff funny, and in fact would have... if her voice wasn't like nails on a chalkboard. And her scream was even worse.

  2. I'm with you. There are some good moments but the film just kinda drags. I think the original story by Welles has the same problem. Great premise but the story just never builds to a story arc that works.

  3. I obviously have an emotional/nostalgic connection to this film as it was one of the first older films I really appreciated already as a kid.

    I agree about O'Connor but to her defense that was a an acting trope/character choice of that time. I really think the special effects are awesome and this might be the novel adaptation that is the closest to the source material that I have ever seen.


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