Haven’t we all fantasized about what it would be like to be invisible? Most of the common perks come to mind: spying, getting into movies and amusement parks free, even the baser peeping tom inclinations come to mind. James Whale would pair his Frankenstein masterpieces with this equally trend-setting film. The film is only loosely based on the popular H.G. Wells novel and is played more for chills. Claude Rains does such a wonderful role when you consider that for most of the film he is denied physical presence on the screen.
Jack Griffin develops a formula that can render a man invisible. When he experiments on himself he finds that regaining his visibility another matter. Griffin slowly goes insane from the effects of the mixture. His colleague must stop him before he destroys himself and maybe the world.
The audio is a digital version of the original mono soundtrack. There are the expected high-end distortions in any film this age, but Universal has done quite a remarkable job with this series in general and this film in particular. Dialogue is clear and always easy to understand. There is a steady hiss during some scenes but it never distracts or overpowers the intended sound of the film.
There is an audio commentary by Rudy Behlmer that is quite engaging. Behlmer can’t seem to hide his own passion for the film and reveals many memorable moments from the cast’s recollections.
The Invisible Man is presented in the original theatrical release aspect ratio of 1.33:1.Once again this transfer rewards us for the painstaking work at Universal. Unlike most of the monster collection this film relies more on optical effects than makeup wizardry. Sharp detail and contrast are absolutely essential to fully enjoy the film. Blacks are very rich and create a sense of dimension. One of the problems is that the transfer is so clean you can see the occasional wirework that was surely invisible to the 1930’s audience.
“Now You See Him: The Invisible Man Revealed” is another grand documentary created for this DVD release. You will be treated to the very birth of modern special effects.The DVD includes trailers, bios, production notes and stills, and web links. Menus remain simple and easy to use.
Boris Karloff turned down the title role in much the same fanfare Lugosi did with Frankenstein. Although not as famous as other monsters, the Invisible Man is not without its influence. This is more the story of having power and being intoxicated and eventually corrupted by that power. Also look for Titanic’s Gloria Stewart and the hilarious Una O’Connor who has the unfortunate luck to stumble upon the Invisible Man in all his invisibility. Universal’s given us this DVD with the warning: “There’s a souvenir for you.”