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The Invisible Man Returns

Invisible Man


Vincent Price - Geoffrey Radcliffe
Nan Grey - Helen Manson
Cedric Hardwicke - Richard Cobb
John Sutton - Dr. Frank Griffin
Cecil Kellaway - Inspector Sampson
Forrester Harvey - Ben Jenkins
Joe May - Director
Ken Goldsmith - Producer
Curt Siodmak - Screenwriter
Milton Krasner - Cinematographer
John P. Fulton - Special Effects
Hans J. Salter - Film Score

Price as the Invisible One At Universal, history was repeating itself in a personal way. Under the old regime, the studio had been a home-away-from-home for German film-makers. Now it was proving a haven again. But this time the refugees chose the studio rather than the other way around. They were driven out by Hitler, not lured forth by Carl Laemmle. Curt Siodmak was a Dresend-born writer of science-fiction films. In time he would become the most prolific scriptwriter in Hollywood horror. Joe May, Viennese veteran, had been making pictures since 1911 (he had directed Fritz Lang's first scenario). May's first Universal assignment had been a remake of Paul Leni's Last Warning (1929), adapted by Peter Milne as The House of Fear (1939). Now May and Siodmak were brought together in typical Hollywood fashion: they were given a story set in provincial England. It was Universal's second exhumation of the second wave of horror, The Invisible Man Returns (1940).

Jack Griffin had well and truly died; death had been the antidote to his invisibility. No man-made creation he, there could be no possible resurrection beyond the cheat of the title. Following the family formula of the Frankensteins, Curt Siodmak created for Griffin a brother. Frank has continued the experiments of John, gone these nine years. Indeed, he has so improved upon monocaine that it is now caled duocaine. However, the film is still the same mixture as before. The Invisible One dons bandages and black goggles, then peels them off to scare a confession from Sir Cedric Hardwicke, the man who framed him for murder. There is the long suffering girlfriend, played by Nan Grey, comical cockneys, posses of police, and the traditional hint of unhinged opportunism. John Fulton was back at the Special Effects, adding to his triumphs of old by showing what had only been talked of before: the Invisible Man outlined by a puff of pipe-smoke or shining in the rain.

History repeated indeed, and in other ways: the rehashed plot was a box-office burster and the sinister tones of the Invisible One, with his climactic materialization, created a new star. It was Vincent Price's initiation into a field he would finally dominate. His christening had been in a butt of malmsey: club-footed Boris Karloff drowned him therein in Rowland V. Lee's historical horror, Tower of London (1939). But Price's ambition as an actor went beyond moster makeup; and when Universal spun the Man into a series, actor John Hall took over.

--DENIS GIFFORD, from A Pictorial History
of Horror Movies
, 1973

In October 1939, Price was back at Universal. The studio was winding down its celebrated cycle of horror films, through which Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, and others had become household names. One of their most successful pictures had been James Whale's 1933 classic The Invisible Man, which had launched Claude Rains' successful film career. In an effort to capitalize on that earlier success, the studio proposed a sequel--The Invisible Man Returns, with Vincent Price replacing Rains in the title role. The film was originally to be directed by Rowland V. Lee, but Universal finally decided on German director Joe May.

Shooting began in October 1939, with Sir Cedric Hardwicke receiving top billing. Of Joe May, Price said, "He was very difficult, mainly because he didn't speak English. He would try to give me direction and I'd say, 'For God's sake, Joe, tell me in German, because I can get along better with you in German than I can in English.' I don't think anyone in the cast ever understood a word he said!" Because Price's character was largely invisible, the film became a showcase for his extraordinary voice, which all the reviewers appreciated.

--VICTORIA PRICE, from Vincent Price:
A Daughter's Biography
, 2000

A selection of Invisible Man related films.

Find The Invisible Man on

A selection of The Invisible Man in books.

A History of Horror

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