On Saturday Matinee, we showcase full-length films from or about the diesel era.
Now you see him, now you don't. 1933's The Invisible Man is our next entry in our gallery of Halloween rogues.
What you need to know
The plot is simple; a scientist finds a way of becoming invisible, but in doing so, he becomes murderously insane.
Why this film is important
Number one, this is a 1930s take on the classic 1897 story by dieselpunk hero HG Wells and was named by the New York Times to be one of the Ten Best Films of 1933.
Number two is Claude Rains' performance. For a man you don't even see until the last moments of the film, Rains' verbal performance propelled his career and he became an overnight movie star after spending nearly twenty years on stage. After The Invisible Man, he went on to be nominated for Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor in 1939 (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington), 1942 (Casablanca), 1944 (Mr. Skeffington), and 1946 (Notorious).
Wittily scripted by R.C. Sherriff and an uncredited Philip Wylie, and brilliantly directed by James Whale, The Invisible Man is a near-untoppable combination of horror and humor. Also deserving of unqualified praise are the thoroughly convincing special effects by John P. Fulton and John Mescall.
With the exception of The Invisible Man Returns, none of the sequels came anywhere close to the quality of the 1933 original. In 2008, it was entered into the US National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as a significant piece of our history.