The Invisible Man (1933)

invisible man poster 1933 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Revolutionary visuals for the time, Claude Rains

The adaptation is a bit weak and seems to run out direction

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Invisible Man

Studio:  Universal Studios

Genre(s):  Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  November 13, 1933

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


Best parlor trick ever!

On a cold night, a stranger roles into town…he’s wrapped in bandages and demands a room.  The man is Dr. Jack Griffin (Claude Rains) and he’s discovered a formula which has made him invisible.  Now, Griffin is in a desperate rush to solve his medical crisis and restore himself so he can be with his love Flora Cranley (Gloria Stuart).  Unfortunately, with the invisibility comes madness that Griffin cannot recognize within himself.  Marked as a murderer, the chase is on for the Invisible Man who could be anywhere.

Directed by James Whale, The Invisible Man adapts the 1897 H. G. Wells sci-fi classic.  The movie was financial and critical success and has been selected by the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for preservation.


I just had a big zit I didn’t want anyone to see…

Though The Invisible Man was primarily a science-fiction novel when it was published, the movie decided to follow the lines of other Universal horror classics and amplify the horror of the situation.  The change was not liked by H. G. Wells who was still alive at the time of the release, and Wells didn’t like that his protagonist was turned into a psychopath.

The story of The Invisible Man doesn’t have much substance.  It is rather classic horror with a mad scientist tormenting the population.  It all seems rather silly at points when you consider, he’s invisible, but it doesn’t make him invulnerable.  The Invisible Man attacks and everyone seems to stand down and let it happen.  He makes a mention that he feels strong, but I don’t imagine that the serum actually makes him physically stronger so I wish some of his victims would just fight back.


I guess he’s shot or something…

The acting is what does hold together the movie.  Despite not being seen Claude Rains seems to have so much fun as Griffin.  The role was originally intended for Boris Karloff, but he turned it down due to the fact that he would actually only appear on screen at the end of the film.  Rains also has some nice back-up in Gloria Stuart as his love interest Flora Cranley and veteran character actor Henry Travers which many might recognize as Clarence the Angel from It’s a Wonderful Life.

Where The Invisible Man excels is in its special effects.  Most of the effects today look weak by today’s standards, but for the time they were very impressive.  Scenes where Griffin unwraps himself and you can see the people through him is great…other times like the floating shirt are a bit weak since the shirt also becomes slightly opaque.

The Invisible Man isn’t my favorite “monster” movie, but it is an entertaining film.  Mostly carried by Rains, the movie might move a bit slow for some, and yes, there are character flaws which are weakly explained away by madness.  What flaws The Invisible Man has aren’t the type of problems that ruin the film but add to the flavor of a classic horror film.  The Invisible Man was followed by The Invisible Man Returns in 1940.

Related Links:

The Invisible Man Returns (1940)

The Invisible Woman (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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