Paul Krenner, an ex-major with delusions of grandeur, has forced scientist Peter Ulof to develop a radiation-based technique to turn men invisible, with which process he plans to create an invisible army to sell to the highest bidder. He busts safecracker Joey Faust out of prison and forces him to undergo the invisibility treatment so he can steal more radium to further the experimentation. Plans go awry when Faust discovers there is a side-effect to the invisibility treatments he didn't count on.
Running Time: 57 Minutes
MPAA Ratings: Unrated
If I was prone to making the kind of obvious, groan-inducing cracks that many of my fellow reviewers spend untold hours thinking up, I might declare that The Amazing Transparent Man isn’t particularly amazing. Or I might joke that the film is a painfully transparent attempt to pilfer a few bucks from Universal’s (long dormant) Invisible Man cash cow. But you probably follow my column for a bit more wit and imagination, eh? As it is, The Amazing Transparent Man is an almost passable B-picture—a diverting quickie that shrewdly blends sci-fi inanities with the rudiments of film noir. Douglas Kennedy plays Joey Faust (!), a notorious safecracker who gets sprung from the Texas State Penitentiary by a shadowy figure of, uh, major influence. He’s escorted to freedom in a sharp Cadillac convertible by a buxom, dark-haired moll named Laura Matson (Marguerite Chapman), and she’s keeping her lips buttoned as to why Faust was untied from custody until they reach their destination. The escape scene that opens the picture is shot day for night, which is a process I generally loathe, and The Amazing Transparent Man reminds me why: At one point during this supposedly late night break out, you can see the sun reflecting off of the getaway car’s windshield.
After conning their way through a police roadblock, Laura and Faust come to a three-story manor in the middle of Bumfuck Egypt. (With its octagonal tower and wraparound porch, this is the kind of Victorian spread I’d like to live in one day.) The home belongs to rogue Major (now you should get the pun from the preceding paragraph) Paul Krenner (James Griffith), a former spy who wants Faust to help him take over the world or something. In the laboratory upstairs (which strikes me as a queer place to house all that hazardous equipment), Dr. Peter Ulof (Ivan Triesault, who played Professor Göteborg in Journey to the Center of the Earth) has been working indefatigably to perfect an invisibility ray. (The poor bastard has no choice, really: Krenner is able to ensure Ulof’s loyalty by holding his young daughter, Maria, hostage.) Krenner gives Faust a preview of what he has in store for him by demonstrating the ray’s power on a cute ‘n’ cuddly guinea pig. A switch is thrown, sparks fly, and the critter’s fur begins to disappear, followed by its muscles, and finally its bones. (Will the little thing run away and use its new clear coat to liberate all the caged cavies from the local pet store? No, but that might’ve made for a far more interesting film.) Krenner’s mission for Faust is to undergo the same beam and then use his translucent form to infiltrate key government (and private) installations and raid their vaults for plutonium. The ill-gotten stuff will be used to fuel an even more potent form of Ulof’s discovery and realize Krenner’s dream of an invisible army, which he plans on selling to whatever country is interested for billions of dollars.
Why are people so down on this modest but enjoyable movie? Beats me. Joey Faust (what a name!), safecracker, is busted out of the pokey and made an offer - turn invisible and steal radium for a mad scientist/soldier planning on setting up an invisible army to conquer the world. Joey goes along with it but quickly decides to use his powers for what comes naturally - stealing lots of do re mi. This causes conflict as you can imagine, and then his invisibility goes on the fritz. Faust is played by Douglas Kennedy who played one of the cops in 'Invaders From Mars', the baddie is James Griffith who had a bit part in Kubrick's 'The Killing', and the movie was directed by Edward G. Ulmer who made the strange Lugosi/Karloff classic 'The Black Cat' back in the 1930s. 'The Amazing Transparent Man' won't change your life, but it's entertaining enough. Worth a look for fans of 1960s/60s b-grade thrillers. infofreak, Perth Austrailia
Adgar G. Ulmer
Boyd 'Red' Morgan
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