Few debuts have been as impressive or odd as that made by the voice of Claude Rains in this macabre classic based on the novel by H.G.Wells. (Actually, there's a glimpse of the rest of Rains, too, but not until the very end.)
Jack Griffin (Rains) is an English scientist who has been experimenting with a drug called monocaine which, he finds, has made his entire body invisible. He goes to the small village of Ipping, wrapped in bandages and wearing dark glasses, and takes a room at the local inn to continue his research
in secret. This subsequently arouses the curiosity of the nosy locals. As Griffin continues his experiments, he begins to suffer from drug-induced megalomania, which eventually becomes full-blown madness. He begins to terrorize the countryside--first playing pranks, and then turning to murder.
Memorable moments and lines of dialogue pepper this striking fantasy: Griffin informing his terrified, unwilling assistant Kemp, "We'll start with a few murders. Small men. Great men. Just to show we make no distinction"; any of the scenes involving the priceless Una O'Connor as the innkeeper's
flighty wife; the farmer's discovery of breathing in his barn. Whale was always fascinated by the inconveniences of being a monster and Griffin tells us how it's hard to walk down steps when you can't see your feet. Best of all, though, is the scene where the enraged scientist first takes off his
disguise and to the amazement of the locals reveals . . . nothing. Fine acting all around, especially from Rains, great camera work and effects from Edeson and Fulton (who used black velvet-clad actors filmed before black backgrounds to achieve the needed effects), and brilliantly judged direction
from Whale make this film hard to beat. The dialogue by Wylie and Sherriff is by turns hilarious, haunting and horrific. leave a comment