The Invisible Man Returns
The Invisible Man Returns movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joe May
Written by H.G. Wells (characters)
Joe May (story)
Kurt Siodmak (story and screenplay)
Lester Cole
Starring Sir Cedric Hardwicke
Vincent Price
Nan Grey
Music by Hans J. Salter
Frank Skinner
Cinematography Milton R. Krasner
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) January 12, 1940 (1940-01-12)
Running time 81 min
Budget $270,000[1]

The Invisible Man Returns is a 1940 horror science fiction film from Universal. It was written as a sequel to the 1933 film The Invisible Man, which was based on the novel The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells. The studio had signed a multi-picture contract with Wells, and they were hoping that this film would do as well as the first. It would be followed by the comedic The Invisible Woman later the same year.

The screen play for this movie was written by Lester Cole and Curt Siodmak (as Kurt Siodmak). The film director was Joe May, who had previously directed The House of the Seven Gables. (May's native language was German, and he spoke little English.) The cast of the film included Vincent Price (in his first horror-film role), Cecil Kellaway, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Nan Grey, Alan Napier and John Sutton.

The movie ran for 81 minutes in black and white with mono sound. The movie holds a 89% at Rotten Tomatoes The production ran slightly over budget, costing $270,000, but it returned good box office revenues. The special effects by John P. Fulton received an Oscar nomination.

In the chronology styled documentary, Ted Newson's 100 Years of Horror (1996), Price recalls that the undressing of the scarecrow scene took several hours to shoot, for only three minutes of on screen time. The transparent effect was done with black velvet covering the actor.

Another sequel, The Invisible Woman, would be released later in 1940. Universal would revisit the concept in the 1951 comedy Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man. (At the end of the 1948 film Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Vincent Price makes a brief voice-only cameo as the Invisible Man; however, the 1951 film features a different "Invisible Man" character played by a different actor.)

The Invisible Man Returns is set in 1906. The Invisible Man (1933) was set in 1897, and a scene in Returns has the police inspector saying that those events happened "9 years ago".


Sir Geoffrey Radcliffe (Vincent Price) is sentenced to death for the murder of his brother Michael, a crime he did not commit. Dr. Frank Griffin, the brother of the original invisible man, injects the prisoner with an invisibility drug. As Radcliffe's execution nears, he suddenly vanishes from his cell. Detective Sampson (Cecil Kellaway) from the Scotland Yard guesses the truth while Radcliffe searches for the real murderer before the drug causes him to go insane.

The Radcliffe family owns a mining operation. The recently-hired employee Willie Spears (Alan Napier) is promoted within the company, stirring Radcliffe's suspicions. After forcing Spear's car off the road, Spears is scared into revealing that Richard Cobb (Sir Cedric Hardwicke), Radcliffe's cousin, is the murderer. After a confrontation, a chase scene ensues during which Radcliffe is struck by a bullet from Sampson. Cobb is killed falling from a coal wagon, but not before confessing to the murder.

Radcliffe, dying from blood loss and exposure, makes his way to Dr. Griffin. A transfusion of blood makes Radcliffe visible, allowing the doctor to operate and save his life. (Vincent Price actually only appeared in the film for one minute, and spent the remainder of the movie as a disembodied voice.)


  1. Michael Brunas, John Brunas & Tom Weaver, Universal Horrors: The Studios Classic Films, 1931-46, McFarland, 1990 p225

External linksEdit

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