The Curious Incident of Dr. Jack Griffin

As you might of guessed the focus of my post is going to be HG Wells’s The Invisible Man, more specifically the 1933 Universal movie starring veteran actor Claude Rains.

Over the years the Invisible Man has been adapted to screen and TV many times, with the 1959 HG Wells Invisible Man being a fondly remembered example and I recall a 1990s movie called Memoirs of an Invisible Man starring Chevy Chase doing rounds at the cinema. The thing with those two examples, and most adaptions aside from the obvious modernization which takes place, is that the concept of the link to HG Wells story is purely the concept of the Invisible Man. Often he is a hero and recruited by the government for various tasks or takes things on out a philanthropic whim. For anyone who has only watched these adaptions and is considering read the book. Get these thoughts out of your head! In the book Griffin is a contemptible individual and is the villain of the piece. He is driven out of his initial boarding as they suspect he is a vivisectionist and to a certain degree this is true as we learn of his experiments on a local pet cat. There is a whopping plot hole though as it is established that he can make invisible clothes, something that would become a useful thing to have latter in the book as Griffin faces the elements.

The 1933 film is a reasonable straight up adaption of the book with a few embellishments for screen, but it sensibly trims the invisible clothes aspect. Rains is great in a role which is effectively a voice over part. Rains has a distinctive voice which would pay off as his career went off playing the Phantom of the Opera in the not-very-good 1945 Universal movie. The first part of the movie the Invisible Man is bound in bandages, sunglasses and a long coat, which is the iconic image of the invisible man frequently reused and as such is effectively a mask role and proves why having such a good voice actor was a necessity as the characterisation purely has to come through the voice. The big moment of the ‘reveal’ showcases some excellent special effects for the early 1930s and it is a testament to the Universal team that in these days of CGI and complicated effects the invisible effects still hold up.

At 72 mins duration you might feel a bit short-changed on purchase but I would rather have a good short film rather than a film padded for duration.

Daily Prompt: Invisible


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