The Invisible Man-attachment0

The Invisible Man

Movie Information

In Brief: James Whale's masterful film version of H.G. Wells' novel made a star out of Claude Rains — and this despite the fact that his face wasn't seen until the film's final shot. It also has stood the test of time as one of the greatest of all horror films — good enough, in fact, that it completely transcends its genre to simply become a great film. Brimming with delicious black comedy and nonstop cinematic creativity, it's a film like no other — and here it's being shown in a beautifully restored version.
Genre: Horror
Director: James Whale (Bride of Frankenstein)
Starring: Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, William Harrigan, Henry Travers, Una O'Connor, Dudley Digges
Rated: NR

Monday, July 22 would have been director James Whale’s 124th birthday, and, as in previous years, the Thursday Horror Picture Show is acknowledging the fact by showing one of his quartet of horror films. Whether or not Whale would have entirely appreciated this is open to debate (though he’s yet to complain), since he never set out to be a horror-movie specialist. In fact, part of his reason for tackling Frankenstein in 1931 was that he felt he was in danger of being stereotyped as someone who only made war movies. (He’d directed the dialogue scenes for Howard Hughes’ Hell’s Angels in 1930, made Journey’s End the same year and followed those up with Waterloo Bridge in 1931, so the possibility was there.) It is unlikely that he ever imagined his legacy would — unfairly — rest on Frankenstein, The Old Dark House (1932), The Invisible Man (1933) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935). But that is the case.

However, choosing The Invisible Man would have pleased him, since it was his favorite of those films — and supposedly tied with Remember Last Night? (1935) as his overall favorite. He might even be pleasantly surprised to see what the film looks like in its new restoration — with a cleaner, sharper image and soundtrack. (And for the hardcore geeks among us, this version also restores the long-excised dance-band music playing on Dr. Kemp’s (William Harrigan) radio. Apparently, Universal finally ponied up for the ancillary rights to the music.) And as a side note, I should point out that it is Mr. Souther’s favorite James Whale picture.

Here’s my review from the last time this was run: The Invisible Man

The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen The Invisible ManThursday, July 25, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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7 thoughts on “The Invisible Man

  1. DrSerizawa

    Well, it’s certainly my favorite Claude Rains film. Though he was good in about everything. He certainly could do “menacing” quite well.

  2. Xanadon't

    Definitely one of those Thursday night offerings that makes me pause to wonder how bad a day job could really be. Would be a fun one to see with an audience.

    I’d call this my second favorite Whale feature, after Bride, and my second favorite Claude Raines film after Notorious.

    Your previous review mentions the way the special effects still hold up for modern audiences, and I absolutely think that’s true. The film boasts a gleeful spirit and approach to “movie magic” that’s purely irresistible.

  3. Ken Hanke

    Bride strikes me as clearly the best, but I think I actually love The Old Dark House best. That’s nothing against The Invisible Man or Frankenstein or Show Boat or Remember Last Night? or Waterloo Bridge or One More River or The Kiss Before the Mirror, mind you.

  4. Dionysis

    I’ve always liked this film a lot, but in spite of the countless times I’ve seen it, the scene where Rains walks across the snow leaving shoe prints always stops me in my tracks. That bit of sanitizing seems so quaint today.

  5. Ken Hanke

    I don’t think it’s sanitizing. There are references to the fact that he’s naked. Plus, 1933 was the height of the pre-code film. I think it’s just a mistake.

  6. DrSerizawa

    The old TV show “The Invisible Man” handled it by having his clothing and shoes made of cotton and leather turn invisible too.

    Though watching him use a laundromat might be amusing.

  7. Ken Hanke

    While I haven’t seen the TV show in probably 50 years, I don’t remember it as very good.

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