The Invisible Man

1933 science fiction

Rating: 17/20

Plot: A ambitious scientist with a bitchin' pair of sunglasses experiments with a twelve dollar chemistry set he bought at a discount store to find a way to reach his dream of being naked all the time without anybody being able to see how underdeveloped one of his nipples (the right one) is. He succeeds, but the concoction makes him batty, deluded, power-hungry, and surly. He figures out that not only can he now walk around naked, but he can probably steal bicycles and play practical jokes on people. And rule the world! Oh, snap! How can the authorities capture somebody they can't even see?

I wish this movie was a silent one. The main flaw is that overinflated early-30s acting that threatens to suffocate certain scenes. The landlady's screams might be the most obnoxious sound I've heard in a movie in a long time, and I don't really like Claude Rains' demented laughter that I guess is there to remind us that there's a dangerous invisible guy in the room. Despite that, this is great early sci-fi. My daughter Emma sat on the couch and watched some of this with me. At one point, she asked me how they were doing the invisible man special effects. That's part of the beauty of a movie like this. Nowadays, this movie would be made with computer effects. It could look a lot more realistic. Or, it could look choppy and glitchy. But there's just something pure about the effects used in this movie. They're pretty cool and must have been really cool in 1933, and they make you wonder how it was all pulled off almost eighty years ago. A bicycle riding by itself, books and cigarettes floating across the room, doors and windows opening by themselves, invisible asses indenting rocking chairs, men being tossed around. And the iconic image of the titular (there's that word again) character pulling the bandages off his face. Good stuff. I also like an opening panning shot of the innards of a tavern (complete with a guy playing darts at a 45 degree angle) and a montage of people locking their doors. This is a fun science fiction film, light on the horror as the invisible guy seems more like a jokester than a terrorist. One question though: Why would a criminal mastermind who is trying to elude the po-po tell everybody exactly when and where he's going to kill somebody? "I'll kill you. . .I'll kill you at 10:00 tomorrow night." My favorite scene: The invisible man's girlfriend Flora comes for a visit. He announces to his partner that he's going to get ready for her visit and leaves the room. When Flora shows up, there's only one thing different about him--those bitchin' sunglasses. For whatever reason, I thought that was hilarious.

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