The Invisible Woman (1940)

invisible woman poster 1940 movie
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 7/10

Still strong visuals

Goofy romance-comedy instead of sci-fi or horror

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Invisible Woman

Studio:  Universal Pictures

Genre(s):  Romance/Comedy/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  December 27, 1940

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


Whoooo! Sexy!!!

Professor Gibbs (John Barrymore) is on the verge of a breakthrough…but has just lost his funding from playboy lawyer Dick Russell (John Howard).  Seeking subjects to test on, Gibbs gets a woman named Kitty Carroll (Virginia Bruce) who down on her luck to volunteer for his invisibility study.  Gibbs’ experiment works, but his experiment also attracts the attention of an underworld criminal named Blackie Cole (Oscar Homolka) who plans to use invisibility to commit crimes.  Kitty must stop Blackie and in the process might just fall in love.

Directed by A. Edward Sutherland, The Invisible Woman is a spin-off of H.G. Wells classic story.  Following The Invisible Man Returns (also released in 1940), The Invisible Woman drops the horror aspect of the story for romance and comedy.  The film did spark some controversy due to the fact that Virginia Bruce is supposed to be naked while she is invisible.


I drink and get naked most of this movie!

While The Invisible Man Returns could hardly be considered horror, the latest entry in the series continues to change the movie and has a tone similar to something like The Philadelphia Story with Russell and Carroll feuding but “falling in love”…plus invisibility.

The story of the movie is very typical of movies at the time.  It is a humorous “romp” type of script…you know that the characters aren’t in danger, and you know that they are going to end up together in the long run…It is completely and utterly harmless.  I can imagine if you went into movie expecting an Invisible Man type story with scares and mad scientists, you would be rather disappointed when you ended up with something like Topper.


Yeah…I don’t like blondes…

The acting in the film is very stage based.  John Howard and Kitty Carroll are very generic leads, but they work for the film.  John Barrymore infuses some fun as the goofy scientist though the humor is rather groan-worthy.  The movie also features appearances by the Wicked Witch of the West Margaret Hamilton as Barrymore’s tortured maid and the Three Stooges’ Shemp Howard as one of the lackeys of Blackie Cole.

The Invisible Woman still does a nice job with the invisibility aspect of the story.  The movie’s effects are above the story that comes with it, although most of the story’s scenes involving Caroll’s invisibility is just her doing voice overs.  Virginia Bruce however did have screen time in the movie as opposed to Vincent Price and Claude Rains in the previous entries only appeared bandaged and wrapped in bandages.

The Invisible Woman takes a different turn for the series that has changed with each entry.  It is a romantic comedy with a bit of a twist, but primarily a romantic comedy.  The Invisible Woman can often be found in collections with other Invisible Man movies, and the film was followed by Invisible Agent in 1942 which takes a military turn for the series.

Related Links:

The Invisible Man (1933)

The Invisible Man Returns (1940)

Invisible Agent (1942)

The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944)

Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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