In 1933, a virtually unknown actor got the opportunity of a lifetime. Carl Laemmle Jr. and James Whale, a seasoned producer and director respectively, extended the leading role to the actor. After watching the film several times, I believe this actor deserved an Academy Award nomination. His name is Claude Rains, and the movie is “The Invisible Man.”
His nomination is easy to understand. Throughout the movie, we never see Mr. Rains. We only see him wearing clothes. It’s only at the end of the film do we see the man. But it’s his distinctive voice that sends an icy chill down our backs. We are seeing someone we cannot see. He is terrifying us at our limits.
However, I’m suspicious that Mr. Laemmle and Mr. Whale had little knowledge of what they had with Claude Rains. A bit of research reveals it was Claude’s voice that sold them. Despite being their third choice to play Dr. Jack Griffin, they did not consider his acting abilities much. Because of this, we got only a taste of Mr. Rains’ acting abilities.
The seventy-two minute movie, as seen, is sensational. But with minor changes, Mr. Rains’ peers and audience could have gotten a better picture of him.( No pun intended.)
If the film had included about fifteen more minutes, we could have witnessed more of Mr. Rains. In the film, we see a dark comedic aspect of Mr. Rains’ character. In other scenes, he’s a sociopathic murderer. We see these distinct features going back and forth throughout the movie. Had James Whale and screenplay writer R.C. Sherriff departmentalized more of the two aspects of Mr. Rains’ character, it would have allowed Mr. Rains to be two protagonists in one.
We get our first dark humorous look at Jack as he is being chased around the room while he wears a white shirt. Another laughable scene I loved was Jack chasing the screaming woman down the road wearing the officer’s pants. Also, the baby carriage scene was so horrible it was funny. Who would do such a thing as turning over a baby carriage? For me, it was a tragic but amusing moment.
But there was one scene that was absolutely hilarious. We see people panicking, locking their doors and windows while thousands are looking for our invisible man in a massive manhunt. But then we see Jack sound asleep in the bed. This scene is priceless and is my favorite in the movie.
By providing us with more of the laughable dissociative persona, Mr. Rains’ sociopathic character would be more frightening, disconcerting, and disturbing. The filmmakers could create a comedic illusion by showcasing two opposites for Mr. Rains to portray.
Also, adding additional moments, we could see Mr. Rains’ acute skills, a brilliant scientist struggling with good and evil. We see a mini portion of his character’s struggle when giving his girlfriend, Flora, the “power speech.” He starts out somewhat reasonably, but his personality turns quickly into a deranged out-of-control scientist as he states, “Even the moon is frightened of me!”
In another scene, Dr. Kemp meets his invisible associate for the first time. Jack is telling him all he can do, including, “Maybe break a train or two.”
Later in the film, we see Jack killing the unbelieving police officer. It is left to our imagination that he may be killing again by throwing two men over a cliff. I have to make a point here. Mr. Rains was flawless in these two scenes. He gave an impression of someone who kills with perverted happiness.
Mr. Rains’ character makes the point, “Everyone deserves the fate that is coming to them.” However, fast forward to the train wreck, there was not enough purpose.
Maybe we could see Dr. Kemp fleeing Jack, getting to the station, and boarding the train. Now we have Dr. Kemp quite relieved as the train departs, thinking he has finally gotten away from Jack. His facial expression is one of relief. As he looks at his watch, he sees ten o’clock. Next Jack derails the train, killing Dr. Kemp and others.
Throughout, Claude Rains plays Jack Griffin with perfection. We see a well-versed actor and showed a believable demented character. To add, in “The Invisible Man,” Mr. Rains shows his immense acting skills. He deserves a standing ovation. I’m J.R. Miller and this is Claude Rains, showing us his transparency.
Mr. Claude Rains