in Shocktober

Shocktober: Day 5

The Invisible Man (1933)

Dir: James Whale
Cast: Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, William Harrigan, Henry Travers

Claude Rains has provided some excellent supporting roles in some of the greatest films of all time . Senator Payne in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Capt. Louis Renault in Casablanca (1942), Alexander Sebastian in Notorious (1946), Mr. Dryden in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), but it’s for his starring role in Universal’s The Invisible Man (1933) that I’ll always remember him. After all it is the film that jump started his career and his performance as the insane Dr. Jack Griffin is timeless.

Universal had originally planned this feature to be another Boris Karloff vehicle, but due to salary disputes Karloff eventually withdrew. Cyril Garnder would also step down as director handing the reigns to who else but James Whale of Frankenstein fame. Wanting a strong “intellectual voice” Whale chose stage actor Claude Rains to play the doomed scientist. Gloria Stuart (who passed away just recently) would play his love interest and horror movie history was made.

What I love about The Invisible Man is how it starts out after he’s already contracted the mutation. He enters a small English village, wrapped tightly in bandages, as his secret is slowly revealed. Really this wouldn’t of been quite as effective if it wasn’t for John P. Fulton, John J. Mescall and Frank D. Williams visual effects. There’s some creepy stuff going on here and it’s propelled even more by that old school Universal charm.

Being Universal, the sets and production value are naturally top notch. I don’t think many would argue against the 30s being the golden age of horror and this is a fine example. Great stars, great sets, good humor, and of course great scares. On a side note even author H.G. Wells was a fan, though he had mixed feelings about changing the lead character from a sympathetic figure to an insane one. Well it would appear that I’m running out of trivia tidbits, so let’s “wrap” it up huh? Get it cause he wears like bandages?