The Invisible Man

Year: 1933

Production: Universal

Director: James Whale

Starring: Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, Henry Travers, William Harrigan, Una O'Connor

Screenwriter: R.C. Sherriff, Philip Wylie

Based on The Invisible Man (1897) by H.G. Wells

71 minutes; B/W

This excellent black comedy tells of a scientist who discovers a drug that causes invisibility but whose side-effect is megalomania. Wearing black goggles over a face wrapped in bandages, he is memorably menacing. After a series of crimes he is trapped by police (his footprints in the snow betray his presence) and show, slowly regaining visibility as his life ebbs away. Whale's direction is full of his usual idiosyncratic touches, with much humor derived from baffled minor characters. John Fulton's special effects are very sophisticated for the period, and were widely imitated. One of the most successful Wells adaptions, this made Claude Rains a star almost purely on ths basis of his mellifluous voice. The Invisible Man is archetypal in its not-unsympathetic portrait of the scientist as overreacher - it contains the much-copied line: "I meddled in things that Man must leave alone."

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

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