The Invisible Man (1933)

70-71 mins | Drama, Science fiction | 13 November 1933

Director:

James Whale

Writer:

R. C. Sherriff

Producer:

Carl Laemmle Jr.

Editor:

Ted J. Kent

Production Designer:

Charles D. Hall

Production Company:

Universal Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

According an early pre-production news item in FD , Boris Karloff was first considered for the lead, and Cyril Gardner was first considered as director. A news item in HR reported that Chester Morris was also considered for the lead, but declined after deciding the role was unsuitable for him. A LAEx news item noted that Paul Lukas was also considered for a role in the film. According to a Jun 1932 news item in Var , "after several months on the script, Universal called off The Invisible Man ," but offered no further explanation. An article in NYT revealed that in order for Claude Rains to "disappear" on the screen, a head and body cast were made, from which a mask was constructed. "When photographed in the mask against a specially prepared background, he became invisible." Further treatment of the film by John Fulton at a laboratory completed the effect. Scenes in which objects appear to fly through the air were achieved by using wires. HR also notes that production was interrupted on 15 Aug 1933 when a fire, started by a smudge pot kicked into some hay, burned an exterior set. A NYT article noted that at a dinner held in honor of the film, author H. G. Wells "remarked that while he liked the picture he had one grave fault to find with it. It had taken his brilliant scientist and changed him into a lunatic, a liberty he could not condone." According to the article, director James Whale responded that the filmmakers felt that they had ... More Less

According an early pre-production news item in FD , Boris Karloff was first considered for the lead, and Cyril Gardner was first considered as director. A news item in HR reported that Chester Morris was also considered for the lead, but declined after deciding the role was unsuitable for him. A LAEx news item noted that Paul Lukas was also considered for a role in the film. According to a Jun 1932 news item in Var , "after several months on the script, Universal called off The Invisible Man ," but offered no further explanation. An article in NYT revealed that in order for Claude Rains to "disappear" on the screen, a head and body cast were made, from which a mask was constructed. "When photographed in the mask against a specially prepared background, he became invisible." Further treatment of the film by John Fulton at a laboratory completed the effect. Scenes in which objects appear to fly through the air were achieved by using wires. HR also notes that production was interrupted on 15 Aug 1933 when a fire, started by a smudge pot kicked into some hay, burned an exterior set. A NYT article noted that at a dinner held in honor of the film, author H. G. Wells "remarked that while he liked the picture he had one grave fault to find with it. It had taken his brilliant scientist and changed him into a lunatic, a liberty he could not condone." According to the article, director James Whale responded that the filmmakers felt that they had to appeal to the "rationally minded motion picture audience," because "in the minds of rational people only a lunatic would want to make himself invisible anyway."
       A modern source includes Dwight Frye ( Reporter ), John Carradine ( Informer ), John Merivale ( Boy ), Walter Brennan ( Man with bicycle ) and Jameson Thomas ( Doctor ) in the cast. Other Universal films about invisibility are the 1940 sequel The Invisible Man Returns (see below); the 1940 The Invisible Woman (see below); the 1942 The Invisible Agent , directed by Edward L. Marin and starring Ilona Massey, Jon Hall and Peter Lorre; The Invisible Man's Revenge , a 1944 film directed by Ford Beebe and starring John Hall and Alan Curtis; and Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man , a 1951 production directed by Charles Lamont and starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
27 Oct 33
p. 3.
Film Daily
3 May 32
p. 6.
Film Daily
18 Nov 33
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jun 33
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 33
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Oct 33
p. 3.
International Photographer
1 Aug 33
p. 35.
Los Angeles Examiner
11-Oct-32
---
Motion Picture Daily
28 Oct 33
p. 1, 4
Motion Picture Herald
4 Nov 33
pp. 37-38.
New York Times
18 Nov 33
p. 18.
New York Times
26 Nov 33
p. 5.
New York Times
3 Dec 33
p. 8.
Variety
28 Jun 32
p. 4.
Variety
21 Nov 33
p. 14.
DETAILS
Series:
Release Date:
13 November 1933
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
6 November 1933
Copyright Number:
LP4226
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
70-71
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

With his face and hands swathed in bandages, and dark glasses covering his eyes, scientist Jack Griffin lets a room in a small inn in the town of Iping, England. There he attempts to find an antidote to his invisibility, the result of a secret experiment whose success has driven him away from his employer, Doctor Cranley, and fiancée Flora. The prying innkeeper's wife is terrified by Jack's apparent irrational behavior, and when she and her husband demand he leave because his rent is overdue, Jack becomes angry because their interruptions have ruined his experiment. He attacks the innkeeper and various inhabitants as he departs, eluding the police by removing his clothes and bandages and using his invisibility. He goes to the house of his associate, Doctor Kemp, who has already determined with the help of Doctor Cranley that Jack has been experimenting with monocane, a plant extract known to cause insanity. Jack intimidates Kemp, who is also in love with Flora, and appoints him to be his partner in his plans for a "reign of terror," which will ultimately result in Jack ruling the world. Jack forces Kemp to return to the tavern with him so he can retrieve his books. Jack begins to wreak havoc in the tavern just as a policeman has declared the whole "invisible man" episode a hoax. Later in the evening, while Jack is asleep, the frightened Kemp alerts Cranley and the police Jack's whereabouts. Flora insists on seeing Jack and attempts to communicate with him, but her presence incites, rather than soothes him. Outraged that Kemp has betrayed him, Jack vows to kill ... +


With his face and hands swathed in bandages, and dark glasses covering his eyes, scientist Jack Griffin lets a room in a small inn in the town of Iping, England. There he attempts to find an antidote to his invisibility, the result of a secret experiment whose success has driven him away from his employer, Doctor Cranley, and fiancée Flora. The prying innkeeper's wife is terrified by Jack's apparent irrational behavior, and when she and her husband demand he leave because his rent is overdue, Jack becomes angry because their interruptions have ruined his experiment. He attacks the innkeeper and various inhabitants as he departs, eluding the police by removing his clothes and bandages and using his invisibility. He goes to the house of his associate, Doctor Kemp, who has already determined with the help of Doctor Cranley that Jack has been experimenting with monocane, a plant extract known to cause insanity. Jack intimidates Kemp, who is also in love with Flora, and appoints him to be his partner in his plans for a "reign of terror," which will ultimately result in Jack ruling the world. Jack forces Kemp to return to the tavern with him so he can retrieve his books. Jack begins to wreak havoc in the tavern just as a policeman has declared the whole "invisible man" episode a hoax. Later in the evening, while Jack is asleep, the frightened Kemp alerts Cranley and the police Jack's whereabouts. Flora insists on seeing Jack and attempts to communicate with him, but her presence incites, rather than soothes him. Outraged that Kemp has betrayed him, Jack vows to kill Kemp at ten o'clock the next night, then slips out. He goes on a murderous rampage across the countryside and finally succeeds in killing Kemp. Public terror mounts as the police are stumped as to how to capture an invisible man. One day, a farmer realizes Jack is sleeping in his barn and alerts the police, who set the barn afire to draw Jack out. Due to a fresh snowfall, they are able to follow his tracks and shoot him. Still invisible, Jack is hospitalized, and confesses to Flora that he should never have tampered with the nature of life. As he dies, he becomes visible once more. +

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

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