Saturday, August 20, 2016

And Flash Gordon Was There in Silver Underwear, or Thoughts on Claude Rains in The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man (1933), based on the 1897 novel by HG Wells, was directed by James Whale of Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935).  Claude Rains stars as Jack Griffin, the quintessential mad scientist searching for redemption.  You know Claude Rains from so many of your favorite films, including Captain Renault in Casablanca (1942), Prince John in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Sir John Talbot in The Wolf Man (1941), Senator Paine in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Alex Sebastian in Notorious (1946), and Mr. Dryden in Lawrence of Arabia (1962).
Claude Rains returns to his native England, at least on film, and spends most of the movie wrapped in bandages, building audience participation.  You come into the theater knowing there’s an invisible man under all those wraps, and spend most of the time listening to Claude’s considerable oration skills.  It’s a brilliant performance based on gesture and voice, no different than wearing a mask or a creature suit or, more recently, Hugo Weaving as V in V For Vendetta (2005).
Of course the invisibility formula drives him violently mad, and it’s interesting how quickly the angry villagers, hysterical bar maids and plodding policemen accept the premise of an invisible man.   The invisibility reveal was accomplished with analog prop effects on fishing line and early matte prints where the actor wore a black velvet suit in front of a black velvet background.  The overall look is surprisingly effective, even for a modern audience, and the movie currently holds a perfect score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Also featuring Henry Travers, Clarence from Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life (1946), as Griffin’s mentor Dr. Cranley.  The most recent remake came from RoboCop (1987) director Paul Verhoeven came with Hollow Man (2000) staring Kevin Bacon and incidentally, Rhona Mitra in her big screen debut.


my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hr diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).