The Invisible Woman (1940)

The Invisible Woman: The eccentric scientist this time around is Dr. Gibbs. (Amazingly, no one in the entire cast is named Griffin.) Broke playboy Richard Russell is his patron, and he plans to raise money selling Dr. Gibbs’s latest invention: an invisibility machine. Gibbs puts an ad in the newspaper for a human guinea pig, and is surprised to find it answered by a woman.

Kitty Carroll works as a department store model for a jerk of an employer. She takes the job as a guinea pig for the invisibility experiment so she can take revenge on him. Oddly, for all her talking, her boss doesn’t recognize her voice.

Meanwhile, a trio of gangsters are after the machine for themselves so their boss can escape Mexico, but when they fail to steal all the parts, their trials have some unexpected consequences.

The special effects are fairly minimal – some empty clothes here, some floating objects there. Something unique to this movie is that alcohol prolongs invisibility, and even can cause it to recur.

This movie is freaking hysterical. I’d gotten so accustomed to the dour horror-ish dramas that the silliness was quite unexpected. It’s fun to see some big names here too: John Barrymore, Margaret Hamilton, Charlie Ruggles, even Shemp Howard.

Now, I’m not being sarcastic when I say this movie is funny. Some of the dialogue is just classic. The butler is by far my favorite character, but they’re all pretty wonderful. And at only 72 minutes, it sure doesn’t drag. This is one worth picking up if you happen upon it.

  1. I just added The Invisible Man Returns to my Netflix and I’m glad that this movie is bundled along with it as I am interested in seeing how humorous this is!

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