The Invisible Ray (1936)

73, 75 or 81-82 mins | Science fiction, Horror | 20 January 1936

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HISTORY

After the credits the following foreword appears on screen: "Every scientific fact accepted today once burned as a fantastic fire in the mind of someone called mad. Who are we on this youngest and smallest of planets to say that the INVISIBLE RAY is impossible to science? That which you are now to see is a theory whispered in the cloisters of science. Tomorrow these theories may startle the universe as fact." The synopsis included in the copyright records gives "the time" of the story as "the present." According to modern sources, sets from Universal's serial Flash Gordon , which was being filmed at the same time, were used in this production, and stock footage of electrical machinery was taken from Frankenstein (see above). Material from The Invisible Ray was used in Universal's 1939 Bela Lugosi serial, The Phantom Creeps , according to modern sources. In addition, modern sources state that Universal intended to make another picture, The Man in the Cab , with Boris Karloff [who was billed on The Invisible Ray simply as "Karloff"] and Bela Lugosi, based on a similar theme and featuring Karloff as an electrical monster. However, the script for The Man in the Cab was abandoned temporarily as interest in science fiction films waned, and was not filmed until 1941 as Man Made Monster ... More Less

After the credits the following foreword appears on screen: "Every scientific fact accepted today once burned as a fantastic fire in the mind of someone called mad. Who are we on this youngest and smallest of planets to say that the INVISIBLE RAY is impossible to science? That which you are now to see is a theory whispered in the cloisters of science. Tomorrow these theories may startle the universe as fact." The synopsis included in the copyright records gives "the time" of the story as "the present." According to modern sources, sets from Universal's serial Flash Gordon , which was being filmed at the same time, were used in this production, and stock footage of electrical machinery was taken from Frankenstein (see above). Material from The Invisible Ray was used in Universal's 1939 Bela Lugosi serial, The Phantom Creeps , according to modern sources. In addition, modern sources state that Universal intended to make another picture, The Man in the Cab , with Boris Karloff [who was billed on The Invisible Ray simply as "Karloff"] and Bela Lugosi, based on a similar theme and featuring Karloff as an electrical monster. However, the script for The Man in the Cab was abandoned temporarily as interest in science fiction films waned, and was not filmed until 1941 as Man Made Monster . More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
11 Jan 36
p. 3.
Film Daily
11 Jan 36
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jan 36
p. 3.
Hollywood Spectator
1 Feb 36
p. 10.
Motion Picture Daily
11 Jan 36
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald
2 Nov 35
p. 64.
Motion Picture Herald
18 Jan 36
p. 82.
Motion Picture Herald
25 Jan 36
p. 39.
Motion Picture Herald
7 Mar 36
p. 99.
Motion Picture Herald
14 Mar 36
p. 88.
New York Times
11 Jan 36
p. 9.
Variety
15 Jan 36
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Carl Laemmle, President; An Edmund Grainger Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dir secy
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Prod asst
WRITERS
Orig story
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Spec cinematographer
Effects
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Ed supv
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus score
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr clerk
Prod secy
DETAILS
Release Date:
20 January 1936
Production Date:
17 September--25 October 1935
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
14 January 1936
Copyright Number:
LP6060
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
73, 75 or 81-82
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
PCA No:
1746
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Dr. Janos Rukh works in his laboratory in the Carpathian mountains as Sir Francis Stevens, his wife, Lady Arabella, her nephew, Ronald Drake, and Dr. Felix Benet, who are planning an African expedition, arrive to witness an experiment. Rukh uses a telescope and other scientific devices to reproduce vibrations from the past by capturing a ray from the distant nebula of Andromeda. Rukh believes that every sound and event in the universe has been recorded somewhere in space, and his ray reveals that a huge meteor once struck primordial Africa. Impressed by the ray, Benet asks Rukh to join their expedition to Nigeria. There, Rukh separates from his colleagues and finds the remains of the meteor, a pit of subterranean activity. Rukh is lowered into the pit and brings back a flashing substance, which melts a rock with its ray when he puts it into a gun-like device. That night Rukh discovers that he glows in the dark, and when he touches his dog, the animal dies. Realizing he has been poisoned, Rukh sends his wife Diane away to save her. After putting on his special suit, Rukh runs to the Stevens' camp to consult Benet, a specialist in astrochemistry. Benet develops a counteractive that checks the poison and Rukh's luminescence, but it must be taken daily and will have an undetermined impact on his brain. Diane, neglected for months by Rukh, soon realizes that she and Ronald are in love. She tells Rukh about her romance in a note sent via Benet, who finds that Rukh is intoxicated with the power of his ray to destroy. The expedition ... +


Dr. Janos Rukh works in his laboratory in the Carpathian mountains as Sir Francis Stevens, his wife, Lady Arabella, her nephew, Ronald Drake, and Dr. Felix Benet, who are planning an African expedition, arrive to witness an experiment. Rukh uses a telescope and other scientific devices to reproduce vibrations from the past by capturing a ray from the distant nebula of Andromeda. Rukh believes that every sound and event in the universe has been recorded somewhere in space, and his ray reveals that a huge meteor once struck primordial Africa. Impressed by the ray, Benet asks Rukh to join their expedition to Nigeria. There, Rukh separates from his colleagues and finds the remains of the meteor, a pit of subterranean activity. Rukh is lowered into the pit and brings back a flashing substance, which melts a rock with its ray when he puts it into a gun-like device. That night Rukh discovers that he glows in the dark, and when he touches his dog, the animal dies. Realizing he has been poisoned, Rukh sends his wife Diane away to save her. After putting on his special suit, Rukh runs to the Stevens' camp to consult Benet, a specialist in astrochemistry. Benet develops a counteractive that checks the poison and Rukh's luminescence, but it must be taken daily and will have an undetermined impact on his brain. Diane, neglected for months by Rukh, soon realizes that she and Ronald are in love. She tells Rukh about her romance in a note sent via Benet, who finds that Rukh is intoxicated with the power of his ray to destroy. The expedition returns to Europe, where Stevens announces the discovery of Rukh's Radium X. Rukh cures his mother's blindness with the ray. In Paris, he finds that Benet is curing legions of the sick at his clinic with the rays of Radium X. Rukh believes Stevens, Benet and Diane have stolen his glory, although all acknowledge his contribution. Rukh kills and mutilates a stranger so that he will be believed dead. Diane and Ronald marry at the Church of the Six Saints, but do not realize that Rukh has seen them. The statues of the six saints remind Rukh of the six individuals who went to Africa, and he takes lodgings across the street. Later Stevens is found dead with a horrible look in his eyes, and after making an ultra-violet photograph of them, Benet discovers the reflection of Rukh. When Arabella dies shortly afterward, Benet points out to police the phosphorescent mark of a hand on her neck. Meanwhile, Rukh marks each murder by melting one of the six statues with the ray. To capture Rukh, an invitation-only lecture by Benet on Radium X is announced. In order to gain admittance, Rukh kills a professor and obtains his pass. At midnight, the lights are turned out to expose Rukh's luminosity, which has gone unchecked since he has delayed taking the counteractive in order to make his touch deadly. Rukh kills Benet with his hands, but cannot bring himself to do the same to Diane. When his mother then arrives, she destroys the counteractive and convinces Rukh to kill himself. Rukh jumps through a window and turns to ashes. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.