Invisible Agent (1942) starring John Hall, Ilona Massey, Peter Lorre, Cedric Hardwicke, J. Edward Bromberg, Albert Bassermann
Invisible Agent is an entry in the Invisible Man series, set just before the United States entered World War II. The film begins with a Nazi undercover agent Conrad Stauffer ( played extremely well by Cedric Hardwicke) and Japanese agent Baron Ikito (played well by Peter Lorre), entering a print shop owned by Frank Raymond (Jon Hall) — who is actually the grandson of the original Invisible Man
. The Nazi agents quickly overpower Frank. In a moment of torture conceived of by Ikito, they put Hall’s hand under a piece of printing equipment, tighten it, and prepare to use the equipment to cut off the fingers on one hand … unless he cooperates and gives them his grandfather’s invisibility formula.
Nature of the Nazi threat
This scene sets the stage quite well – the Nazis in this movie are unquestionably evil, and not to be trifled with; Hogan’s Heroes this isn’t. They are cold-blooded evil and will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. Despite the appearance of an invisible man, the horror in this horror film comes from the human monsters of the Nazis and their allies.
Our young hero manages to escape, and make enough noise that the Nazis are forced to retreat before the police arrive. Soon, Frank Raymond is offering to use his grandfather’s formula on behalf of the American government, despite its’ risks — and despite his lack of training, he is parachuted behind enemy lines in Germany, to find out what he can with the aid of the invisibility formula — and the German underground.
He begins by rendezvousing with Arnold Schmidt (Albert Basserman), a casket maker, who gives him shelter and directions to his next contact, the beautiful Maria Sorenson (Ilona Massey). She has been romancing Cedric Hardwicke’s character to get information. While Hardwicke’s out of the country, however, another Nazi, Karl Heiser (J. Edward Bromberg) is trying to win her affections — which irritates our Invisible Agent, who goes out of his way to make a monkey out of Heiser at a dinner.
Threat and inexperience
In addition to the humor of the situation, the scene also underscores the Nazi threat as Heiser pulls out of his picnic basket delicacies stolen from various occupied countries. It also showcases Hall’s inexperience, as he lets his jealousy get in the way of his mission.
Soon Stauffer is back, and shows his cleverness by trapping the Invisible Agent — which Hall narrowly escapes. As the plot continues, Invisible Agent Hall discovers a plot to directly attack the United States, which he must foil by warning the U.S. military. But the Nazis in this movie are both cunning and cruel — finding Invisible Agent Hall’s first contact, Schmidt, and interrogating him — breaking his fingers in the process.
There’s a fair amount of intrigue, potential romance — but can Invisible Agent Hall trust Maria, or is she a double agent? Can they warn the Americans in time? Can Invisible Agent Hall turn Heiser’s cowardice against him?
In short, Invisible Agent is a very enjoyable movie, and works both as an entry in the Invisible Man series as well as a patriotic war film. I recommend it for fans of either genre.
Haven’t I seen him someplace before?
- Ilona Massey portrayed Baroness Frankenstein in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man
- Sir Cedric Hardwicke has been in numerous horror films, including The Invisible Man Returns
- Peter Lorre has a long history in the horror genre, including The Raven, M
Editorial review of Invisible Agent courtesy of Amazon.com
Spurred by an unfriendly visit from Axis reps, Frank Raymond (Jon Hall), the grandson of the original invisible fella, realizes his duty is clear. That is, he must turn over the formula for his grandfather’s invisibility serum to the U.S. government before the Nazis get hold of it, and volunteer his invisible self as a secret weapon to obtain classified Nazi secrets. So The Invisible Heir turns Invisible Paratrooper and jumps behind enemy lines to wrangle with their high command, make time with delectable counterintelligence agent Ilona Massey, make monkeys out of a gaggle of Nazis, and uncover the Axis plans to bomb New York City! Tonight! With or without Giuliani!
Movie quotes from Invisible Agent
Maria Sorenson (Ilona Massey): Are you insane?
Frank Raymond (Jon Hall): No, just transparent. You wouldn’t call a window insane, would you?
Maria Sorenson (Ilona Massey): People who live in transparent bodies shouldn’t be so suspicious.
Conrad Stauffer (Cedric Hardwicke): It’s good for you to see your friends arrested. It hardens you.
Karl Heiser (J. Edward Bromberg): He has his own ideas, and that’s dangerous. The Fuhrer doesn’t like people who think their own thoughts.
Conrad Stauffer (Cedric Hardwicke): Four stories high and no fire escape. I wouldn’t jump if I were you. You might break every invisible bone in that poor, invisible body.
Frank Raymond (Jon Hall): You Nazis. I pity the devil when you boys start arriving in bunches.
Conrad Stauffer (Cedric Hardwicke): Sign this.
Arnold Schmidt (Albert Bassermann): What is it?
Conrad Stauffer (Cedric Hardwicke): Our common form of release. It merely states that you’ve been well-treated and that no one has harmed you.
Arnold Schmidt (Albert Bassermann): I… I can’t sign it.
Conrad Stauffer (Cedric Hardwicke): You won’t?
Arnold Schmidt (Albert Bassermann): I can’t. You’ve broken my fingers. You…
Baron Ikito (Peter Lorre): Occidental decay is nowhere more apparent than in that childish sentimentality of white men for their women.
Maria Sorenson (Ilona Massey): I’ll find out.