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The Invisible Woman

The Invisible Woman movie poster
Directed by A. Edward Sutherland
Written by H.G. Wells (characters)
Joe May (story)
Kurt Siodmak (story)
Robert Lees
Frederic I. Rinaldo
Gertrude Purcell
Starring Virginia Bruce
John Barrymore
John Howard
Music by Frank Skinner (uncredited)
Cinematography Elwood Bredell
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) December 27, 1940 U.S. release
Running time 72 min
Preceded by The Invisible Man Returns (1940)
Followed by Invisible Agent (1942)

The Invisible Woman is a science fiction, comedy film that was released near the end of 1940 by Universal. It is the third film in the Invisible Man series following the successful The Invisible Man Returns film that had been released earlier in the year, but this movie was instead written as a farce that would exploit the humorous possibilities of the invisibility concept. The comedic writers Robert Lees and Fred Rinaldo wrote the screenplay in slapstick style, while H. G. Wells would again be credited as the original author of The Invisible Man. The film was be directed by A. Edward Sutherland.

The cast included the aging John Barrymore, Virginia Bruce in the lead role, as well as John Howard, Charlie Ruggles, Charles Lane and Oscar Homolka. Margaret Sullavan had originally been slated for the role of the invisible woman, but the part did not appeal to her and as a result she did not report for the filming. (As she was under contract with Universal for another film she was issued a restraining order to prevent her from appearing in other films. She later satisfied her contract with a part in the 1941 film Back Street.)

This movie runs for 70 minutes and was filmed in black and white with mono sound. The special effects were produced by John P. Fulton, who earned another nomination for an Oscar following his comparable effects work in The Invisible Man Returns.



The wealthy lawyer Dick Russell (John Howard) funds the dotty old inventor Professor Gibbs (John Barrymore) to create an invisibility device. The first test subject for this machine is Kitty Carroll (Virginia Bruce), a department store model who had been fired from her previous job. The machine proves quite successful, and Kitty uses her invisible state to pay back her former sadistic boss, Mr. Growley (Charles Lane).

While the Professor and the invisible Kitty are off visiting the lodge of the millionaire Russell, the gangster Blackie Cole (Oscar Homolka) sends in his gang of moronic thugs to steal the device. With the machine back at their hideout, however, they cannot get it to work. By now Kitty has returned to visibility, and the thugs are sent in to kidnap her and Gibbs. However, she has learned that some alcohol will restore her to invisibility, and uses this to defeat the gang (with help from Russell).

At the end of the film it is revealed she has married and become a mother. To top it off, she and the professor learns that her treatment has apparently affected her DNA--as her infant son vanishes upon being rubbed with an alcohol-based lotion!

At the time of its release, this film was considered slightly risqué because much is made of the fact that the heroine, though invisible, is naked during much of the action. The madcap comedy elements include role reversal, slapstick tumbles, some humorous lines, and a lively pace.

See also


  • Michael Brunas; John Brunas; Tom Weaver, Universal Horrors: The Studio's Classic Films, 1931-1946, McFarland & Co., 1990, ISBN 0-89950-369-1.

External links

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