The Invisible Man Returns opens with Geoffrey Radcliffe (Vincent Price) in prison for the murder of his brother--and just hours away from the gallows. Following a visit from his friend, Dr. Frank Griffin (John Sutton), Geoffrey miraculously escapes from his cell...although the guards find his clothes lying on the floor.
|No, that's not Darth Vader--but Jeff|
wearing a gas mask.
The Invisible Man Returns is a solid sequel, but certainly not on par with its 1933 predecessor. It benefits from a first-rate supporting cast led by Sir Cedric Hardwicke as the villain, Alan Napier as a bribed accomplice, and Cecil Kellaway as a Scotland Yard inspector. (Also on hand is Mary Gordon, who would play Mrs. Hudson in the Universal Sherlock Holmes films.) The film's biggest assets, though, are its star, special effects, and trademark Universal atmosphere.
|Cecil Kellaway, the Invisible Man outlined in smoke,|
and Cedric Hardwicke.
Vincent Price had appeared memorably in the preceding year's The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (as Walter Raleigh) and Tower of London (as the Duke of Clarence). The Invisible Man Returns provided him with his first starring role. Just as with Claude Rains in the original, Price's face remains behind bandages for almost the entire film. However, Price's distinctive voice conveys all the requisite emotion as his character evolves from mild paranoiac to egomaniac.
John P. Fulton, who created the invisibility special effects for the 1933 film, returned for the sequel. He earned an Academy Award nomination for his amazing effects (losing to Lawrence W. Butler for The Thief of Bagdad). Fulton would also earn Oscar nominations for his optical tricks for The Invisible Woman (1941) and Invisible Agent (1942). He eventually won two Oscars, in 1945 for the Danny Kaye comedy Wonder Man and in 1956 for Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandants.
|The Invisible Man stealing clothes.|
I think The Invisible Man Returns would have worked better as a legitimate mystery with an invisible detective. As it is, there is only one likely suspect and, sure enough, he turns out to be the killer. Still, with a running time of 81 minutes, it doesn't overstay its welcome and the efforts of Price and Fulton make it worthwhile.