I have not written about or even watched a cheesy movie in a long time. I was delighted, therefore, when Steven agreed to watch a selection from The Best of the Worst DVD I had given him for his birthday last March. We picked The Amazing Transparent Man (1960), one we had not seen before. I’m not sure I would classify it as either superlative, but I do not despair of coming up with a few paragraphs about it.
Spoiler Alert! As usual, I intend to give a plot summary as well as commentary, and I’ll probably give a lot away. Not that suspense is one of this movie’s strong points to begin with.
The movie opens with a jail break, and I wondered if they were making use of stock footage, because I thought at first we had seen it before. It is the usual jail-break images: the spotlights moving across the walls and fences, the guys in the tower looking around with binoculars, the dogs pulling at their leashes barking wildly.
Soon the jail breaker is dressed in a tux riding in a convertible with a classily dressed lady. The car was my favorite part of the movie. I adore classic cars.
It seems the lady has helped they guy escape for reasons unknown to him. His name is Faust. As I told Steven, that is just the sort of heavy-handed reference I would have been proud of in junior high or perhaps high school. Oh well, maybe I didn’t know who Faust was at that time. For those of you who don’t know now, Faust sold his soul to the devil and had a really good time with the proceeds till he was about to die, and then he said, “Oh, crap, now I have to go to hell.” Or words to that effect.
The reason for the break soon becomes clear when we find that Faust is a master safe cracker. When Crenna, the head bad guy (I remember “Crenna,” because I kept thinking of Richard Crenna) (and I could not figure out what kind of a reference this was supposed to be) tells him this, Faust laughs in his face.
“I can’t show my face in a bank,” he exclaims. Ah, the evil Crenna has provided for this, as anyone who noticed the title of the picture will have guessed.
The maker of the invisibility machine we have been waiting for since the credits is a sweet old man with an indeterminate European accent. He has a tragic backstory which actually adds some depth to the movie. Unfortunately, the depth is undermined by the mysterious door his daughter is being held hostage behind. Oh dear, I’m not explaining this part very well. My point is, mysterious door, cheesy movie: I was expecting a monster or torture chamber and I was doomed to disappointment.
Just to add to my ongoing disapproval of Hollywood’s treatment of animals, there is a guinea pig who gets made invisible then visible and does not seem to be happy about it. Later on the poor things dies of radiation sickness. I confess to being a little disappointed that it did not turn into a monster and attack people. I mean, as long as it was going to come to a bad end anyways, why not make it dramatic? Oh well, as I often observe, one can’t have everything.
There is a lot more to the movie, but I guess there is no point in spoiling everything (also, I am pressed for time). I think they tried to make a profound point at the end, but you know I don’t pay a great deal of attention to the non-cheesy parts.
In general I am not a fan of invisibility as part of the monster genre. For cinematic purposes, especially cheesy ones, I prefer a monster I can see. I suppose I could end this post making a profound point about how what you can’t see can be more frightening that what you can. I think I will just let you ponder that on your own, if you feel so inclined. Let know what you come up with, and also, please do tell if you figure out a literary reference in calling the head bad guy Crenna.