The Invisible Man Returns (1940) starring Vincent Price, Nan Grey, Cedric Hardwicke, Cecil Kellaway
The Invisible Man Returns is an excellent movie, due to no small degree to the acting skills of Vincent Price. Vincent Price is Geoffrey Radcliffe, the proverbial “man convicted of a murder that he didn’t commit” — the murder of his own brother. Soon to be executed, he’s given an unexpected last-minute reprieve — but not from the state. He’s visited by Dr. Frank Griffin (John Sutton), the brother of the original Invisible Man, who offers to inject him with the unstable invisibility formula, warning him of the side effect: gradual insanity. Stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea, Vincent Price makes Hobson’s choice — and chooses the injection, hoping to find the actual murderer before he’s driven to insanity. At the same time, Dr. Griffin will try to find an antidote for the invisibility formula.
Vincent Price soon escapes, and rendezvous with his fiancee played the lovely Nan Grey (Dracula’s Daughter). The film becomes a detective story, as Price/Radcliffe searches for the murderer, drama as he’s literally fighting against the clock and struggling against his own mental instability, and romance as a triangle is introduced with Cedric Hardwicke. He’s also being pursued by a dogged, intelligent police detective, played well by Cecil Kellaway. It’s an excellent movie, well worth watching, and highly recommended.
Editorial review of The Invisible Man Returns (1940) starring Vincent Price Nan Gray, courtesy of Amazon.com
This belated and semi-inspired sequel to 1933’s The Invisible Man finds the earlier film’s Claude Rains replaced in the title role by Vincent Price, appearing in his first starring role just two years after making his Hollywood debut in the now-forgotten 1938 comedy Service De Luxe. Rather than repeat the scenario of the Invisible Man going mad from the effects of his own invisibility serum, this engaging mystery begins when a murderer (Cedric Hardwicke) plots to frame his brother (Price), who then uses the invisibility serum to escape from jail and clear his name.
Price is a fine replacement for Rains, since both men were blessed with a mellifluous voice that would become the focus of their performances. Once again, John P. Fulton provided the groundbreaking (and still impressive) special effects, and the film contains a few eerily clever surprises that distract from the obvious symptoms of that most persistent of Hollywood maladies: sequelitis. —Jeff Shannon
Movie quotes from Return of the Invisible Man
Mr. Cotton: I – I can’t believe it’s going to happen. Just two more hours, and they’re going to kill him.
Helen Manson (Nan Gray): [Helen to the now-invisible Geoffrey as he removes his bandages and clothes to leave] When will I see you?
Helen Manson (Nan Gray): Geoffrey!
Geoffrey Radcliffe (Vincent Price): Helen, darling!
Trivia for Return of the Invisible Man
- Vincent Price’s first horror film, 13 years before House of Wax typecast him in the genre. He also provided the voice of the Invisible Man in Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein.
- The special effects by John P. Fulton received an Oscar nomination.
- Shooting lasted from October to December 1939, released January 15, 1940. Vincent Price made this film right after James Whale’s Green Hell, which saw release one day before, on January 14.
- Alan Napier, best known as Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred in the 1960’s Batman TV series, has a minor role as Willie Spears
Where have I seen you before?
- Vincent Price – Master of the World, Laura, Shock
- Nan Grey – Dracula’s Daughter
- Cedric Hardwicke – Invisible Agent, Five Weeks in a Balloon
- Alan Napier – Batman, The Mole People
- John Sutton – Jane Eyre, The Return of the Fly
- Cecil Kellaway – I Married a Witch, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner