The Invisible Man (film series)

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The Invisible Man
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Films and television
Film(s)

The Invisible Man is a film series by Universal Pictures. The series consists of The Invisible Man, The Invisible Man Returns, The Invisible Woman, Invisible Agent, The Invisible Man's Revenge and Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man. The film series borrows elements from H. G. Wells's novel The Invisible Man, but it focuses primarily on the idea of a serum that causes someone to go invisible and its side-effects.

The series has been described as fragmented, with very few films in the series being connected. This is different from other Universal series of the time, such as Frankenstein and The Mummy. Some films in the Invisible Man series, such as The Invisible Man Returns and Invisible Spy, attempt to connect to the first film through characters who were related to Griffin. Others bear no relation to the original film beyond the inclusion of a plot involving a mad scientist and a person who becomes invisible as a result of their experiments. Retrospective critics and film historians have commented that other films in the series borrow stories from previous films, with The Invisible Man Returns, The Invisible Man's Revenge and Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man having the same stories as Charlie Chan in London, The Walking Dead and The Invisible Man's Revenge respectively.

Films[edit]

Universal's The Invisible Man film series includes The Invisible Man, The Invisible Man Returns, The Invisible Woman, Invisible Agent, The Invisible Man's Revenge and Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man.[1] Film historian Ken Hanke described "The Invisible Man series as one of Universal's "most fragmented series".[1] The authors of Universal Horror wrote that attempts to connect the series to the first film "proved awkward" unlike Universal's The Mummy and Frankenstein series.[2] Examples of these connections include The Invisible Man Returns where the character Geoffrey Radcliffe (Vincent Price) receives the invisibility formula from Dr. Frank Griffin (John Sutton), a relative of Jack Griffin from the first film and Invisible Spy where Frank Raymond is the grandson of Jack Griffin.[3][4] In The Invisible Man's Revenge, the screenplay does not connect Robert Griffin with the previous Griffins who either created, understood, and or operated with the invisibility formula.[5]

Some films in the series were described as being re-writes of previous films. Hanke described The Invisible Man Returns's story being "more than slightly similar" to the 1934 film Charlie Chan in London.[4] In Phil Hardy's book Science Fiction, a review stated that the Invisible Man's Revenge was basically a rewrite of the 1936 film The Walking Dead.[6] Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man was described by the authors of Universal Horrors as being a semi-remake of The Invisible Man Returns with the title character rewritten as a boxer framed for murder.[7] Hanke described The Invisible Woman as being "curious offshoot" of the series, being directed by A. Edward Sutherland who specialized in comedy films.[8]

Universal has later remake the Invisible Man in 2020 which became a critical and financial success.

Production[edit]

Following the success of Dracula, Richard L Schayer and Robert Florey suggested to Universal Pictures that an adaptation of H.G. Wells's The Invisible Man as early as 1931.[9] Though promoted as being based on of H.G. Wells' novel The Invisible Man, the screenplay only follows the basics of the original novel.[1] After going through several potential directors, including Florey, Cyril Gardner, E. A. Dupont, with James Whale eventually being chosen.[9] [10] Shooting of the film began on June 1933 and concluded in late August[11]

Universal Pictures first announced the development of The Invisible Man Returns in March 1939, around the time Son of Frankenstein was performing well at the box office.[12] Hanke described the film's story being "more than slightly similar" to the 1934 film Charlie Chan in London.[4] Though not a horror film, The Invisible Woman was originally written as a more serious horror film, about a mad scientist turning a woman invisible.[13][8] The story was then passed on to Robert Lees and Fred Naldo who specialized in comedy.[13] Gertrude Purcell, who had written the screenplay for the western comedy Destry Rides Again was hired to add a woman's perspective on the story.[13]

Invisible Agent was announced under the title The Invisible Spy in early 1942.[14] Universal first announced the plan for The Invisible Man's Revenge on June 10, 1943 with the hopes of having Claude Rains performing in the lead.[15] Actor Jon Hall who was Frank "Raymond" Griffin in Invisible Agent now portrays Robert Griffin, a killer who seeks revenge on men who framed him.[6] A retrospective review in Phil Hardy's book Science Fiction commented that the film was basically a rewrite of the 1936 film The Walking Dead.[6]

Prior to the first day of shooting The Invisible Man's Revenge, Universal's attorneys made a deal with H. G. Wells for the rights to make two more Invisible Man sequels between July 1943 and October 1951.[16] Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man was described by the authors of Univeral Horrors as being a semi-remake of The Invisible Man Returns with the title character rewritten as a boxer framed for murder.[7] Several lines of dialog from The Invisible Man Returns and some special effects were reused in the film.[7]

Crew[edit]

Crew
The Invisible Man The Invisible Man Returns The Invisible Woman Invisible Agent The Invisible Man's Revenge Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man Ref(s)
Director James Whale Joe May A. Edward Sutherland Edwin L. Marin Ford Beebe Charles Lamont [9][17][18][14][19][20]
Producers Carl Laemmle, Jr. N/A N/A N/A Ford Beebe Howard Christie
Screenwriters R.C. Sherriff Lester K. Cole, Curt Siodmak Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo, Gertrude Purcell Curt Siodmak Bertram Millhauser Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo, John Grant
Cinematographer Arthur Edeson Milton Krasner Elwood Bredell Les White Milton Krasner George Robinson
Editors Ted Kent Frank Gross Edward Curtiss Saul A. Goodkind Virgil Vogel
Visual Effects Supervisor Frank D. Williams John P. Fulton John P. Fulton and John Hall John P. Fulton David S. Horsley

Reception[edit]

In his book The Monster Movies of Universal Studios, James L Neibaur commented on the series stating that outside the 1933 film The Invisible Man, "none of its sequels were particularly impressive" finding the The Invisible Man's Revenge "average", The Invisible Woman "amusing" and Invisible Agent benefitting from the appearance of Peter Lorre in the cast, and The Invisible Man's Revenge "pedestrian".[21][22]

Three films in the series led to Academy Award nominations for Best Special Effects.[23] These included John P. Fulton, Bernard B. Brown and William Hedgcock for The Invisible Man Returns, Fulton and John Hall for The Invisible Woman, and Fulton and Brown for Invisible Agent.[23]

Derivative works[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Hanke 2014, p. 71.
  2. ^ Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 86.
  3. ^ "The Invisible Agent". American Film Institute. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Hanke 2014, p. 73.
  5. ^ Hanke 2014, p. 120.
  6. ^ a b c Hardy 1984, p. 114.
  7. ^ a b c Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 214.
  8. ^ a b Hanke 2014, p. 74.
  9. ^ a b c Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 78.
  10. ^ Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 79.
  11. ^ Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 81.
  12. ^ Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 208.
  13. ^ a b c Neibaur 2017, p. 76.
  14. ^ a b Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 294.
  15. ^ Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 401.
  16. ^ Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 405.
  17. ^ Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 207.
  18. ^ Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 237.
  19. ^ Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 400-401.
  20. ^ "Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 5, 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. ^ Neibaur 2017, p. 119.
  22. ^ Neibaur 2017, p. 120.
  23. ^ a b Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 583-584.

Sources[edit]