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'The Amazing Transparent Man' (1960): A Review

He's invisible...sort of.
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The Amazing Transparent Man (1960)


It has been far too long since the diabolical machinations of the dreaded and much maligned Mole People have been examined and discussed: With vast mineral deposits in their possession, and a hereditary blindness amongst their kind that prevents them from seeing, and thus, enjoying ‘classic’ films, the Mole People have dedicated their miserable lives to destroying cinema for all above dwellers out of spite, their films being constructed and composed by a number of demented human servants, like director Edgar G. Ulmer, whose 1960 science-fiction thriller, “The Amazing Transparent Man”, is shining example of the fiendish Mole People’s plot to ruin cinema for all of us.

The film stars Douglas Kennedy as Joey Faust, a safe-cracker who gets bust out of prison and then rescued by the comely and mysterious Laura (Marguerite Chapman), who reveals that Faust’s prison escaped had been planned and orchestrated by her boss, former army Major Paul Krenner (James Griffith).

Krenner, who’s more than a bit touched in the head, enlists Faust to help him out in his latest scheme: Having forced a German scientist – Dr. Peter Ulof (Ivan Triesault) – into continuing his dangerous invisibility experiments via the tried and true method of kidnapping Ulof’s daughter and holding her prisoner, Krenner hopes to use Ulof’s invisibility machine to produce an invisible army, but needs Faust to steal more uranium for him in order to further continue Ulof’s experiments. Hijinks ensue afterwards, as Faust tries to escape the secluded homestead of Krenner, while also hoping to use his new-found invisibility powers to rob banks instead.

Oozing with tell-tale signs of the Mole People influence, if Ulmer’s diabolical film seems designed for no other purpose than to dissuade the masses from ever watching another film again it’s because it is! Though official records state that the film was shot on a shoe-string budget, the truth is the decrepit and cheap appearance of the film is an intentional one, its bland and repetitive sets (or set rather, since the entire film seems to take place at Major Krenner’s house) creating an atmosphere that is neither thrilling nor aesthetic pleasing.

The editing is equally atrocious. In addition to including scenes that continue long after the action has finished, Ulmer’s poorly shot photographic effects are rather reminiscent of a public broadcast television show’s attempts to use a green-screen, particularly when Faust’s invisibility begins to fluctuate.

The cast is further proof that Ulmer’s production was financed by the dreaded Mole People, his collocation of “thespians” consisting of the third place runner-up in the James Garner Look-alike Contest (Kennedy), a pretentious, fay and utterly unthreatening character actor (Griffith), and a B-movie starlet doing her best impersonation of your average female lead in a Howard Hawks film (Chapman). The efforts of all these actors, combined together, create a cast of characters that are neither sympathetic nor captivating, and worst of all, unfathomably uninteresting. Just as the Mole People intended!

The final proof of the Mole People’s stamp of approval can be found in the film’s script: The ‘witty’ dialogue is about as sharp as tissue paper, a fact made only more obvious by the inexplicable number of scenes featured wherein people sit around drinking and talking to each other in a film that’s supposed to be about an invisible bank-robber. Not that the scenes featuring an invisible Joey Faust are any better. The scenes where an invisible Faust first gets the upper-hand on Krenner are perhaps some of the most ridiculous ones, the latter’s “fight” an invisible Joey Faust closer resembling an epileptic fit rather than actual fisticuffs.

Ghastly to look at, impossible to take seriously, lacking anything remotely akin to suspense, thrills, or impressive special effects, Edgar G. Ulmer’s “The Amazing Transparent Man” is anything but amazing – just as the Mole People designed it to be! Those with sensitive constitutions and a severe hatred of boredom should beware “The Amazing Transparent Man” at all costs, its abysmal effects, slow-paced editing, off-center acting and lack of suspense rendering it nigh unwatchable, and a perfect example of the dreaded Mole People’s power and influence in Hollywood’s dark and mysterious past.

Find the nearest Blockbuster (assuming they still exist) near your home so you can rent this film almost immediately. Or, if you prefer that movies came to you instead, set up a Netflix account and start your ordering as soon as possible.

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