The Invisible Man - on the Screen

Herbert George Wells (1866-1946) published his novel The Invisible Man in 1897, one of a string of astonishing science fiction novels written by Wells at the time. Astonishing because no one else was writing stories like - The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The First Men in the Moon, The Island of Dr. Moreau and The Invisible Man - he was the first. This hub looks at the various films and TV shows influenced by Wells classic novel.

The Invisible Man (1933) poster
The Invisible Man (1933) poster
Claude Rains and Gloria Stuart in The Invisible Man (1933)
Claude Rains and Gloria Stuart in The Invisible Man (1933)

The Invisible Man (1933) Directed by James Whale. 71mins.

The Invisible Man (Dr. Jack Griffin) - Claude Rains

Gloria Stuart, William Harrigan, Henry Travers and Una O'Connor.

Now this is surprising, there has only been one movie based on H.G. Wells The Invisible Man and this was it. The film was successful and turned Claude Rains into a star even though you don't see his face until the very end of the movie.

Boris Karloff was originally considered for the role.

One of a handful of James Whale (1889-1957) genre classics filmed in the 1930s along with Frankenstein, The Old Dark House and Bride of Frankenstein.

The special effects were groundbreaking for their time. John P. Fulton (1902-1965) was one of Hollywood's greatest effects artists with 6 Oscar Nominations, winning for Wonder Man (1945) and The Ten Commandments (1956).

Tagline - H.G. Well's Fantastic Sensation

The Invisible Man: Suddenly I realized the power I held, the power to rule, to make the world grovel at my feet. Power to walk into the gold vaults of the nations, into the secrets of kings, into the Holy of Holies; power to make multitudes run squealing in terror at the touch of my little invisible finger. Even the moon's frightened of me, frightened to death!

IMDB rating 7.7

The Invisible Man Returns (1940) Lobby card
The Invisible Man Returns (1940) Lobby card

The Invisible Man Returns (1940) Directed by Joe May. 81mins.

The Invisible Man (Geoffrey Radcliffe) - Vincent Price

Also starring Cedric Hardwicke, Nan Grey, John Sutton, Cecil Kellaway and Alan Napier.

Vincent Price's first foray into sci-fi-horror.

Like Claude Rains in the first Invisible Man film we only get to see Price's face in one scene near the end though there's a happy ending this time.

Vincent Price or rather his voice would turn up again as the Invisible Man at the very end of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).

Oscar Nomination for Best Special Effects.

IMDB rating 6.4

The Invisible Woman (1940) Lobby card
The Invisible Woman (1940) Lobby card

The Invisible Woman (1940) Directed by A. Edward Sutherland. 72mins.

The Invisible Woman (Kitty Carroll) - Virginia Bruce

Also starring John Barrymore, John Howard, Charles Ruggles and Oskar Homolka.

Comedy sci-fi with a naked leading lady, ooh er, the catch is she's invisible when she's naked. A fun entry in the Invisible Man series with a good cast and clever effects.

Kitty Carroll: Whew! Kinda chilly. I wonder how the nudists stand it.

Prof. Gibbs: If more women were invisible, life would be much less complicated.
Richard Russell: And much less interesting.

Oscar Nomination for Best Special Effects.

IMDB rating 6.0

Invisible Agent (1942) poster
Invisible Agent (1942) poster

Invisible Agent (1942) Directed by Edwin L. Marin. 81mins.

The Invisible Agent (Frank Raymond) - Jon Hall

Also starring Ilona Massey, Peter Lorre, Cedric Hardwicke and J. Edward Bromberg.

The fourth film in Universal Studio's Invisible Man (and Woman) series.

This time it's matinee idol Jon Hall who turns invisible and for a good cause too, set after the attack on Pearl Harbour, our invisible hero parachutes into Nazi Germany on a top secret mission.

Peter Lorre turns up as a Japanese baddie.

Frank: I can't tell you Japs apart.

Maria: Are you insane?
Frank: No, just transparent. You wouldn't call a window insane, would you?

IMDB rating 5.8

Invisible Man's Revenge (1944) Lobby card
Invisible Man's Revenge (1944) Lobby card

The Invisible Man's Revenge (1944) Directed by Ford Beebe. 78mins.

The Invisible Man (Robert Griffin) - Jon Hall

Also starring Leon Errol, John Carradine, Alan Curtis, Evelyn Ankers and Gale Sondergaard.

The fifth and last in the Invisible Man series. A good cast makes it watchable but this was the least enjoyable of the group.

Jon Hall again, this time playing a different and nastier character.

Herbert: Have you been scalded or have you got the mange?
Robert: Neither. I'm invisible.
Herbert: You - Oh, don't make me laugh!

IMDB rating 5.5

Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951) poster
Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951) poster

Abbott and Costello Meet The Invisible Man (1951) Directed by Charles Lamont. 82mins.

The Invisible Man (Tommy Nelson) - Arthur Franz

Also starring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Nancy Guild, Adele Jergens and Sheldon Leonard.

It was inevitable that Bud and Lou would catch up with the Invisible Man eventually, they had already met Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolfman and were later to meet Jekyll & Hyde and the Mummy too.

A photo of Claude Rains, as Griffin the inventor of the Invisibility serum, makes an appearance in one scene.

Det. Roberts: Evidently Nelson changed clothes... what was he wearing when you last saw him?
Lou Francis: Air... nothing but air... and then he asked me how he looked.
Det. Roberts: Wearing air? What are you talking about?
Lou Francis: I went to shake his hand, his hand was gone, I looked up to speak to him, his head was gone. Then he took off his shirt, his body was gone, he took off his pants, his legs were gone! Then he spoke to me, I was gone.

IMDB rating 6.7

The Amazing Transparent Man (1960) poster
The Amazing Transparent Man (1960) poster

The Amazing Transparent Man (1960) Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. 57mins.

The Invisible Man (Joey Faust) - Douglas Kennedy

Also starring Marguerite Chapman, James Griffith, Ivan Triesault and Boyd 'Red' Morgan.

Ultra low budget sci-fi B-movie less than an hour long. This time it's an invisibility machine which ends up in the hands of a mad US Army major (Griffith) who plans to take over the world with it.

The film eventually found it's home in Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Major Krenner: I must know the full potential of your invention because my aim is to make an entire army invisible. Do you understand that? An entire army.

IMDB rating 3.4

Now You See Him, Now You Don't (1972) Lobby card
Now You See Him, Now You Don't (1972) Lobby card

Now You See Him, Now You Don't (1972) Directed by Robert Butler. 88mins.

The Invisible Man (Dexter Riley) - Kurt Russell

Also starring Cesar Romero, Joe Flynn, Jim Backus and William Windom.

The second in a trilogy of Walt Disney comedy films starring Kurt Russell as science student Dexter Riley, the first was The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969) and the third - The Strongest Man in the World (1975).

Dexter invents an invisibility spray and a bunch of crooks plan to steal it.

Tagline - He's going... going... gone!

IMDB rating 6.0

The Invisible Man (TV 1975) poster
The Invisible Man (TV 1975) poster

The Invisible Man (1975-1976) TV series. Created by Harve Bennett.

The Invisible Man (Dr. Daniel Westin) - David McCallum

Also starring Melinda O. Fee, Craig Stevens, Jackie Cooper and Henry Darrow.

14 x 50mins episodes.

A scientist, played by McCallum, invents an invisibilty formula which he uses on himself, unfortunately something goes wrong and he remains invisible permanently. He has to apply a special face mask when interacting with people.

David McCallum played Illya Kuryakin in the popular 60's spy series The Man from UNCLE and is currently playing Dr. Mallard in NCIS.

IMDB rating 6.7

Richard Dysart, Ben Murphy and Katherine Crawford in Gemini Man (TV 1976)
Richard Dysart, Ben Murphy and Katherine Crawford in Gemini Man (TV 1976)

Gemini Man (1976) TV series.

The Invisible Man (Sam Casey) - Ben Murphy

Also starring Katherine Crawford, William Sylvester, Richard Dysart and Paul Shenar.

12 x 50 mins episodes.

Ben Murphy stars as a secret agent who during an explosion at an underwater salvage operation is injured and rendered invisible.

Ben Murphy played Kid Curry aka Thaddeus Jones in the hit series Alias Smith and Jones (1971-1973)

IMDB rating 6.5

The Man Who Wasn't There (1983)
The Man Who Wasn't There (1983)

The Man Who Wasn't There (1983) Directed by Bruce Malmuth. 111mins.

The Invisible Man (Sam Cooper) - Steve Guttenberg

Also starring Jeffrey Tambor, Art Hindle, Morgan Hart, Lisa Langlois and William Forsythe.

No, not the Coen Bros film starring Billy Bob Thornton but an obscure Steve Guttenberg comedy of the early 80's. Steve discovers an egg-shaped object containing a green-fluid, he drinks from it and becomes invisible. He is soon chased by foreign agents who want the strange liquid.

The film was shot in 3D and released during the short-lived 3D movie craze of 1982-1985.

IMDB rating 3.3

Chevy Chase and Daryl Hannah in Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)
Chevy Chase and Daryl Hannah in Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)
Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992) poster
Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992) poster

Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992) Directed by John Carpenter. 99mins.

The Invisible Man (Nick Halloway) - Chevy Chase

Also starring Daryl Hannah, Sam Neill, Michael McKean and Stephen Tobolowsky.

Loosely based on a novel by H.F. Saint first published in 1987.

Stock Analyst Nick Halloway (Chase) is caught in an explosion at Magnascopic Laboratories which turns him and half the building invisible. Nick is hunted by some nasty CIA agents headed by Sam Neill and falls in love with Daryl Hannah.

Excellent visual effects and at a cost of $40m 'Memoirs' was easily the most expensive Invisible Man film up till that time but it was not a hit grossing $20m worldwide.

Nick: I want my molecules back!
Nick: You know something, Alice?
Alice: What?
Nick: If you were blind, we'd make the perfect couple.

IMDB rating 5.8

The Invisible Man (TV 2000) poster
The Invisible Man (TV 2000) poster

The Invisible Man (2000-2002) TV series. Created by Matt Greenburg.

The Invisible Man (Darien Fawkes) - Vincent Ventresca

Also starring Paul Ben-Victor, Shannon Kenny, Eddie Jones and Michael McCafferty.

45 x 50mins episodes.

Premiered on the Sci-Fi Channel.

A thief is recruited by a secret government agency and turned into an invisible spy by implanting a "Quicksilver" gland into his head. The drawback is that the liquid sometimes seeps into his brain causing momentary madness.

Darien Fawkes: Look I'm telling you, this thing they put in my head. I think it's evil, and I think it's trying to take over.
The Keeper: It's a bio-synthetic gland. It's not evil.

IMDB rating 7.6

Hollow Man (2000)
Hollow Man (2000)
Hollow Man (2000) poster
Hollow Man (2000) poster

Hollow Man (2000) Directed by Paul Verhoeven. 112mins (119mins)

The Invisible Man (Sebastian Caine) - Kevin Bacon

Also starring Elisabeth Shue, Josh Brolin, Kim Dickens, William Devane and Rhona Mitra.

A group of scientists at a research center develop a serum that can turn the subject invisible. After successfully testing it on a gorilla, Sebastian Caine (Bacon) takes the serum and turns invisible, but the formula has side effects transforming Caine into a murderous psychopath.

A complete anatomically correct 3D computer model of Kevin Bacon's body was donated to medical researchers.

The amazing visual effects received a well deserved Oscar nomination but critics reviews were mostly unfavorable.

Hollow Man cost $95m to make and has grossed $190m worldwide.

Sebastian: You know what, Matt? It's amazing what you can do... when you don't have to look at yourself in the mirror any more.

IMDB rating 5.6

Tony Curran in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
Tony Curran in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) poster
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) poster

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) aka LXG. Directed by Stephen Norrington. 110mins.

The Invisible Man (Rodney Skinner) - Tony Curran

Also starring Sean Connery, Peta Wilson, Stuart Townsend, Shane West, Jason Flemyng and Richard Roxburgh.

Based on the comic book series by Alan Moore first published in 1999.

A group made up of famous literary characters - Allan Quatermain, Captain Nemo, Dorian Gray, Mina Harker, Henry Jekyll, Tom Sawyer and the Invisible Man - team up to battle the evil Fantom who is intent on starting a World War.

The film was beset with production problems and both director Stephen Norrington and star Sean Connery vowed never to make any more films.

LXG cost $78m to make and has grossed $179.2m worldwide.

Rodney Skinner: This is a charming spot. Does Jack the Ripper live here?

Allan Quatermain: Skinner, I want you dressed at all times. Or it's my boot up your arse.

IMDB rating 5.6

Fantastic Four (2005) poster
Fantastic Four (2005) poster

Fantastic Four (2005) Directed by Tim Story. 106mins (125mins)

The Invisible Woman (Susan Storm) - Jessica Alba

Also starring Ioan Gruffudd, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon and Kerry Washington.

Based on the comic book characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

In the comic books Sue Storm was originally known as the the 'Invisible Girl', this was later changed to the 'Invisible Woman'.

Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Sue Storm, her brother Johnny Storm and Victor Von Doom are exposed to cosmic radiation while on a mission in space. On returning to Earth they all start to develop strange superpowers.

George Clooney was considered for Reed Richards, James Gandolfini for Ben Grimm, Scarlett Johansson for Sue Storm, Paul Walker for Johnny Storm and Tim Robbins for Dr. Doom.

Critics weren't impressed and panned the movie. Chris Evans received praise for his portrayal of Johnny Storm as a hot-headed young man excited about his super powers.

Fantastic Four cost $100m to make and was one of the big hits of the year, grossing $330.5m worldwide.

Reed Richards: What worries me is that our powers are evolving.
Johnny Storm: I know - I know! I'm so close to flying, guys, I can taste it.
Susan Storm: You can't fly.
Johnny Storm: Yet.

IMDB rating 5.7

Hollow Man II (2006) poster
Hollow Man II (2006) poster

Hollow Man II (2006) Directed by Claudio Fah. 91mins.

The Invisible Man (Michael Griffin) - Christian Slater

Also starring Peter Facinelli, Laura Regan, William MacDonald and Sarah Deakins.

Direct to DVD sequel to Paul Verhoeven's Hollow Man (2000).

Michael Griffin (Slater) volunteers to be the first invisible soldier in the US army. Unfortunately the serum makes him insane and he goes on a killing spree.

"Griffin" was the surname of H.G. Well's original 'Invisible Man'.

In one scene a photo of director Paul Verhoeven is used in a newspaper story about murdered scientists.

The climax features a fight between two invisible men (which must have helped the films limited production budget).

Tagline - There's more to terror than meets the eye.

IMDB rating 4.4

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) poster
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) poster

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) Directed by Tim Story. 92mins.

Invisible Woman (Susan Storm) - Jessica Alba

Also starring Ioan Gruffudd, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon and Kerry Washington.

Sequel to Fantastic Four (2005) which was also directed by Tim Story.

Our team of superheroes encounter the alien entity 'The Silver Surfer' who warns them that the Earth has been chosen for destruction by the cosmic planet-eater known as Galactus.

The Silver Surfer's first appearance was in Fantastic Four issue #48, published March 1966.

Susan Storm: Doesn't it bother you? All the worlds and innocent people you've helped destroy?
Silver Surfer: My service spares my world, and the one I love.
Susan Storm: Why did you try to protect me?
Silver Surfer: Because you remind me of her.

The presence of the Silver Surfer helped FF2 receive better reviews from the critics. The film cost $130m to produce and has grossed $289m worldwide.

Current plans are for a rebooted Fantastic Four movie with an all new cast.

IMDB rating 5.7

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Comments 10 comments

Geekdom profile image

Geekdom 4 years ago

Thanks for the trip down memory lane with this one. I do not know why I always find young Disney star Kurt Russel so shocking and Chevy Chase...oh Chevy Chase....I remember that being the first of his movie downward spiral. I was a HUGE Chevy Chase fan up until this one.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks Geekdom, the hub nearly turned into a Fantastic Four hub at the end there. Alba is so cute I had to include her. :)

Yes I remember being excited about Memoirs of an Invisible Man, I was thinking "Invisible Fletch", has to be great, what a downer. I haven't seen it in years might be worth another look, or maybe not.

Thanks for posting.


nanderson500 profile image

nanderson500 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

Great list. The older Invisible Man movies look interesting, I might have to check those out sometime. The only movie I've seen on this list is the Fantastic Four.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Universal Studios Invisible Man movie series are or were available together on DVD. Well worth a look, the first one especially is a mega classic by the great James Whale.

The only movie on here I've never seen is The Amazing Transparent Man, I've watched episodes of the David McCallum TV series but not the others.

Appreciate the comment nanderson500, thanks.


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

One of my early Halloween costumes. Thanks for the memories.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Was it as a bandaged head with sunglasses and a hat or a disembodied voice? :) Thanks as always for commenting Mhatter99.

Btw the leading lady in the first Invisible Man movie, Gloria Stuart, would receive an Oscar nomination more than 60 years later for playing the 'Older Rose' in James Cameron's Titanic.


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 4 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Wow. So many films and TV series I didn't see or don't remember! I'll have to keep my eye out for them in future. Now, I do remember the original 1933 film because I was surprised at the special effects for that time were pretty impressive. I can't believe I don't recall the 1975 series with David McCallum-- I've been a fan of his since The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Another great hub.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks David. I remember watching a few episodes of McCallum's series in the 70's. but I don't remember seeing any of the later ones.

Claude Rains unwrapping the bandages on his head and revealing nothing underneath must have been a jawdropper 80 years ago.


Cogerson 4 years ago

An interesting look at the history of the Invisible Man in motion pictures....I have seen many of the films you mentioned....with the Claude Rains and Chevy Chase ones being my favorites of the bunch you listed. I have never even heard of the Guttenberg one....good old Guttenberg....whatever happened to his career?...Voted up and across the board.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Hello Bruce, nice to see you around here again, thanks for commenting.

I've never heard of that Guttenberg film either, I thought it was the Coen Bros film at first.

The Chevy Chase movie had some fun special effects but I thought the film could have been better.

Thanks for posting.

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