The making of the film was interesting to say the least. Whale had made Boris Karloff a star withFrankenstein (1931) — something he realized was going to happen during shooting and which he feared, not unreasonably, would draw attention away from his filmmaking. He made sure that wouldn’t happen again on their inevitable reteaming with The Old Dark House (1932) — a film in which it was clear that the filmmaker was the real star. But Whale didn’t personally care that much for his star (he found him on the dull side and a little too self-serious) and he definitely didn’t want him for The Invisible Man. He wanted an untried stage actor, Claude Rains. The studio wanted Karloff, but Karloff played into Whale’s hands by getting into a salary dispute with Universal that caused him to accept an offer to make The Ghoul (1933) in England. Still, they wanted a name, so Whale suggested Colin Clive — and then privately asked Clive to decline, which he did. Whale got the star he wanted as a result and Rains became forever associated with the role. The film is interesting in that it marks the first time Whale used a background score (by W. Franke Harling) — and oddly, not until the film’s final reel. In addition, the film gave us one of the most useful horror film lines ever: “I meddled in things that man must leave alone.”
The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen The Invisible Man Thursday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina Asheville, hosted by Xpress movie critic Ken Hanke.