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The Invisible Woman

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The Invisible Woman (1940), starring Virginia Bruce, Charles Lane, John Barrymore
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The Invisible Woman (1940), starring Virginia Bruce, Charles Lane, John Barrymore

The original  The Invisible Man was a horror movie, mostly faithful to the original novel by H.G. Wells.   The sequel,  The Invisible Man Returns starring  Vincent Price was equal parts horror movie, romance, and crime story.   In contrast,  The Invisible Woman is a comedy — a very enjoyable comedy.

The Invisible Woman movie poster

In a nutshell, the Invisible Woman of the title (Virginia Bruce) is a model. She’s oppressed by her mean, controlling, cheapskate boss. The boss is played by character actor  Charles Lane, who is probably the first person that comes to mind for this role. She agrees to be a guinea pig for a quirky scientist (played excellently by  John Barrymore). Upon becoming invisible, her first act is to get revenge on her boss.   But who is bankrolling the cost of these experiments? The romantic lead, played by John Howard, who falls in love with the invisible woman. And, as is typical for romantic comedies of the time, the two begin bickering almost immediately.

Secondary, hilarious characters

One of the delights of the film is Howard’s suffering butler, played wonderfully by  Charles Ruggles; he’s frankly one of the best parts of the movie.    Margaret Hamilton  (Wicked Witch of the West in  The Wizard of Oz has a minor role as the scientist’s housekeeper.

The conflict is …

The Invisible Woman movie poster

The main conflict in the film is provided by a gangster who wants to sneak back into his home country. So, he wants to steal the machine. His underlings include  Shemp Howard  of  the Three Stooges. And “Foghorn” who experiences an … unexpected side-effect from the improper use of the invisibility machine).

The laughs come fast and frequent, and  The Invisible Woman is a very enjoyable comedy.   The end of the movie, where the Invisible Woman tries to make the rescuing romantic lead’s job more difficult, is frankly distracting. But it’s also the only negative comment I have about the movie.   My daughter and I both enjoyed  The Invisible Woman, and hope that you do as well. It’s available on DVD as part of  The Invisible Man – The Legacy Collection.

Be sure to check out Funny movie quotes from  The Invisible Woman as well.

Cast of Characters

Updated 6/12/2022

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