The Invisible Man (1933)

The Invisible Man (1933): I’m kind of surprised more versions of this story have not been made. (Most of the film versions have used the invisibility concept but not the actual plot.) My husband thinks it’s because the special effects are a pain in the butt. I’m not so sure. Most of the full-body shots here were done with black velvet to superimpose the empty clothing onto the rest of the scene. Moving objects were mostly done with wires or off-screen manipulation, and one particularly inspired scene was a fake “empty bandages” head being unwrapped by someone’s hands reaching in from out of frame, to make it look like Griffin is removing his own head wrappings. Very clever.

Anyway, this film starts out pretty true to the book, with the bandaged stranger showing up at the inn and generally being a jerk to everybody. However, here Kemp is Griffin’s colleague, looking into Griffin’s disappearance. Another addition: Dr. Cranley, who also works with Kemp and Griffin, and his daughter Flora, who evidently had some sort of romantic ties to Griffin. The addition of Flora is hardly surprising, but her character was underused.

Thomas Marvel, the vagrant Griffin basically kidnaps to do his bidding, is gone, though Kemp does partially fill that role. The ending is very different, but I suppose the filmmakers didn’t think audiences in 1933 would take “death by mob” too well. Considering the amount of slapstick comedy from Griffin invisibly bothering everyone, he’s more of a trickster than a menace, a man driven mad by the very chemicals that turned him invisible.

I actually really enjoyed this film. Some of the overacting is unintentionally hilarious (like the innkeeper’s wife who never stops screaming, or Flora’s tearful dive onto the window seat), but in general it’s quite well done. My favorite character was probably Kemp, whose mannerisms were mostly of the “please pardon me while I go have a nervous breakdown” variety. With a run time of barely over an hour, this is definitely worth watching.

  1. Hi melydia,

    I didn’t know how else to reach you, so sorry if this is the entirely wrong medium.

    I picked up “Desert Heat” by J.A. Jance a few years ago, and never got around to reading it until now! Sorry about that!

    Anyway, I read it while on vacation in Maine, and left it on a bench in Bar Harbor. I forgot to write down the code, but I wanted to let you know that I read it and released it :)

    Thanks for inviting me to the book crossing community, my account name is sgaf2 if you want it for any reason.

    Kind regards,
    Selina Faulkner

  2. This sounds like much fun to watch! I love old B&W films even if they are a little cheesy, so I should look this one up. Do you think they made the story scarier than the actual book?

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