A movie full of 1930’s big loud actors portraying 1750’s big loud actors trying to out-act each other. Brian Aherne (in both the 1950’s Titanic movie and a 1940’s movie with the same title as another Titanic movie) is Garrick, the “greatest” actor in Britain, off to France to work with the Comedie Francaise, but after a perceived insult they intercept him at an inn, pretending to be innkeepers and patrons, scripting a plot to make a fool of him. He’s onto their scheme and plays along, but Olivia de Havilland shows up unexpectedly and nobody knows what to do with her. Whale seems to excel at making horror movies that are secretly comedies, and when he makes a straight comedy here it’s not so amusing. The wikis say that Whale made an anti-nazi movie in 1937 that was neutered in re-editing by his nazi sympathizer bosses at Universal, so this wasn’t his year.
Tag: James Whale
Never seen this, and I’d steeled myself for a first half of boring scientist buildup, but nope, he arrives at an inn, already invisible and in a terrible mood. This was a good pick, excellent and humorous, as I should’ve expected, coming between The Old Dark House and Bride of Frankenstein.
While the voice of Claude Rains is off being invisible and trying to complete his studies if only the other residents would leave him alone, his mustachey coworker Kemp (William Harrigan of Flying Leathernecks) takes the opportunity to mack on Claude’s girl Gloria Stuart.
The innkeepers curse their luck:
At the inn, the highlight is Una O’Connor, who has a terrific scream. Claude’s only special powers are to beat people up while invisible, and fuck with their heads – the news reports the so-called invisible man as a group delusion, a bumpkin madness, but things escalate when he kills a cop halfway through the movie.
Clarence and Gloria hear the bad news:
Kemp and Gloria arrive along with her scientist dad Clarence, who says the chemicals in Claude’s invisibility formula can cause madness. Proving his point, Claude kills 100+ innocents by wrecking a train and tearing through his own search party, then murders Kemp, sending his car off a cliff. Since neither science nor the love of Gloria Stuart can tame him, the townsfolk hunt the guy down.
Played at the second Venice Film Festival, with Little Women, Twentieth Century, It Happened One Night, and
Golden Lion Mussolini Cup winner Man of Aran. One of the five classic Universal monster movies, all of which got multiple sequels. Joe May would direct Invisible Vincent Price in 1940, and the same year Virginia Bruce would play The Invisible Woman, though of course she doesn’t get to be a scientist, she just answered a newspaper ad placed by Dr. John Barrymore. Jon Hall fought nazis as The Invisible Agent, returned for his Revenge two years later, then Arthur Franz got invisible with Abbott and Costello. There have been plenty more invisible (and Hollow) men and women, and it looks like the guy who made Upgrade is rebooting the original next year with Elisabeth Moss.
Holy crap, what an odd movie. Three travelers caught in a storm arrive at a spooky house, where they’re met by a mumbly deformed butler (Boris Karloff). The masters of the house, two hateful siblings – jittery doomsayer Ernest Thesiger (the mad doctor in Bride of Frankenstein who creates tiny people) and half-deaf grump Eva Moore – say they can stay the night (“but no beds!”), and also welcome another couple that arrives soon after, but act strange and nervous. As the night goes on, Karloff gets drunk and releases the third sibling, pyromaniac madman Saul, who threatens to destroy them all.
At your service: Melvyn, Gloria, Raymond
Meanwhile someone from the first carload falls in love with someone from the second. Some of the dialogue is hilarious, but the movie never comes out and announces its intention to be a comedy or parody. Well, maybe it does when one of the men sneaks upstairs and discovers the siblings’ 100-year-old grandfather in bed, clearly played by a woman with fake whiskers.
Travelers: Gloria Stuart of Titanic, who didn’t look anything like Kate Winslet when she was young, is married to Raymond Massey, who’d later play Karloff in Arsenic and Old Lace. They arrive with their sardonic layabout friend Melvyn Douglas (also a sarcastic romantic in I Met Him in Paris), who falls for Lilian Bond (Double Harness) who arrived with Charles Laughton (same year as Island of Lost Souls), a loud, brash rich fellow. It’s alright with Laughton that Melvyn runs off with his girl – Laughton wasn’t all that attached to her.
Boris vs. Gloria:
Lilian Bond looks more like Kate Winslet than Gloria does:
Very nice looking, shadowy picture, with kinda rough editing. Remade by William Castle in the 60’s. Gloria Stuart provides an audio commentary with good insight and recall. I didn’t listen to the whole thing, but James Cameron did.