'The Invisible Man' turns 80!

By Robert Kirchgassner,

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the classic Universal monster film The Invisible Man.

Based on the 1897 H.G. Wells novel of the same name, the film centers on Dr. Jack Griffin (Claude Rains, in his screen debut), who has been driven mad by the invisibility serum he has tested on himself. Despite the support of his love (Gloria Stuart), Griffin’s search for a cure for his condition eventually transforms him into a monster that proceeds to terrorize the English countryside.

The movie’s success made the title character a classic screen villain alongside Dracula and Frankenstein, which Universal also successfully adapted for the screen two years earlier.

The whole cast is great and the special effects remain dazzling even today. Unlike later invisibility movies, such as Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992) and Hollow Man (2000), this film perfectly balances thrills with comedy. That perfect balance can be credited to director James Whale, who brought the same stroke of directing genius to this film as he brought to Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

Like Frankenstein’s Monster, the Invisible Man would get his own sequels, though none of them starred Rains. But he didn’t lose sleep over that since his success in this film led to a great career with films such as The Wolf Man (1941), Casablanca (1942) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

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