curt siodmak, frank griffin jr., hg wells, ilona massey, invisible agent, jon hall, Universal Horror
Positioned as a wartime propaganda film in order to build up the morale of US Citizens, Hollywood took another look at HG Wells’ Invisible Man, this time instead of mobs hunting down Griffin’s invisible formula, it would be the S.S.
The story picks up with the formula back in family hands, that of grandson, Frank Griffin Jr. played by John Hall in what would be his first outing as the cloaked man.
Hall had previously impressed Universal for his support role in Eagle Squadron and was more than fitting to take the lead role embedded in the world of espionage.
Interestingly, the formula doesn’t have the negative impact on the psychosis as per the previous films, which is more than likely to keep a more upbeat, positive outcome with ample heroics for Griffin Jr to outwit and outsmart the S.S.
Sworn to make allegiance with the US government following the attack on Pearl Harbour, Griffin Jr discloses his secret to invisibility and from here on he is sent on a mission to where he parachutes behind enemy lines.
He is soon aided by Maria Sorenson played by Ilona Massey, who receives equal billing and rightfully so as the femme fatale figure seemingly playing with the hearts of both Griffen Jr and GS Karl Heiser.
Cue mishaps and mayhem as they weave their way in and out of situations to evade capture in the manner that the 1940s movies excelled at.
None more so here thanks to script writer Curtis Siodmak.
Equally the leads are ably supported by stable actors, Cedric Hardwicke and Peter Lorre as the villains of the piece. Lorre’s performance is by today’s standards highly controversial and an example of the whitewashing in Hollywood as he plays Baron Ikito, a Japanese officer.
He delivers his usual sound Peter Lorre performance, but you can’t escape how uncomfortable it is that he is portraying a character who is not of his own race.
Despite this, Invisible Agent is a great addition to the Invisible Man series and although it is different in tone, it has great substance in its style and has powerful performances providing a great yarn to boot.
- Saul Muerte
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