Universal Monsters: The Invisible Woman (1940)
With the exception of the "Abbott & Costello Meet…” movies, I never really expected other
comedies to be part of a Universal Classic Monsters DVD box set. I was quite surprised when I
popped The Invisible Woman (1940) into the DVD player and quickly learned it was a
romantic screwball comedy.
This angered me at first and I almost stopped watching, but then something odd happened. When
I put my pen down and stopped taking notes, then just sat back and watched, I ended up enjoying
the movie, even though I still debate whether or not Kitty Carroll (Virginia Bruce) should be
considered one of the Universal Monsters.
The Invisible Woman has absolutely nothing to do with either of the previous two Universal
“invisible” movies, The Invisible Man or The Invisible Man Returns. In fact, it’s not just a
potion that turns Carroll invisible. There’s also a machine that Professor Gibbs (John
Barrymore) invented working in conjunction with the formula.
Neither device slowly drives its victim insane. There’s no race against time to return Carroll to
visibility. Perhaps the point that finally lowered my defenses is that when she gets drunk, it
alters her physiology and makes the results unpredictable. More importantly, this is the first
invisible person who knows how to have fun with her affliction.
The first thing she does is to visit her boss and literally give him a swift kick in the rear. This
may be a comedy, but that is realistic. She also has great fun with teasing her unlikely playboy
suitor, Richard Russell (John Howard) about what she really looks like. Proving to him that
she’s not fat, she slowly puts on her hose to give form to her lovely legs.
It’s all very light and entertaining, if not extremely old-fashioned. A subplot about a Mexican
mob’s plan to steal the invention is less so. I’m not much for slapstick, so when the butler
tumbles down the stairs and the maid gets locked in the closet, I cringe. I have a feeling there are
better movies similar to The Invisible Woman, so while I enjoyed it, it still made me want to
watch something else.