Friday, 28 March 2014

The Invisible Man Returns (1940)

Time for another man to turn invisible, and possibly a bit insane, in this enjoyable movie that I guess could be class as a sequel of sorts to The Invisible Man.

Vincent Price is Geoffrey Radcliffe, a man who has been charged with the murder of his brother. Luckily, a couple of people believe that he is innocent, including the lovely Helen Mason (Nan Grey) and Frank Griffin (John Sutton). Griffin is especially useful, as he is the brother of the main character in the 1933 movie. He has recreated the formula that makes people invisible, but he also needs to find a way to reverse the procedure before madness sets in. As Geoffrey sets out to prove his innocence, he becomes more and more unbalanced, and it's not long until Helen and the doctor suspect that they may run out of time. Meanwhile, Inspector Sampson (Cecil Kellaway) goes to great lengths to capture the invisible fugitive, and he knows a trick or two to make him appear.

Directed by Joe May (with a script by Lester Cole and Curt Siodmak), this is a competent and entertaining movie. The special effects are pretty good, although they don't quite seem as impressive as they were in the original movie, and the plot unfolds with a few enjoyable twists and turns that mix in enough elements to stop everything feeling like a simple retread of the first movie.

Vincent Price has, as we all know, a great voice, which makes him a great actor to put in the central role. He's as good as ever here, although it's a shame that it's, by necessity, mostly a voice-only performance. Grey and Sutton are both fine as his main allies, and Kellaway is good as the dogged Inspector. Cedrick Hardwicke is the smooth Richard Cobb, and Alan Napier is the rough Willie Spears.

Overall, this is a good bit of fun. There are one or two enjoyable set-pieces, a good set of characters to spend time with, and the sheer fun that comes from any movie using invisibility as a main plot point.


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