Humourous escapades abound in the Invisible Woman
starring John Barrymore in another classic performance
as only he can give. Here, Barrymore is the slightly
senile Professor Gibbs who has invented a formula to
make people invisible. Virginia Bruce is working for
a man she detests and decides to test the professor's
formula when he puts an add in the newspaper, so she
can give her boss a kick in the pants. Laughs proliferate
when some gangsters also want the formula so their boss
can get back into the country from Mexico. If you are
looking for something in the Invisible Man trade, then
try the Invisible Woman and you won't be disappointed.
Not everyone is motivated by money; Kitty Carroll, after
one too many hard days in the garment district, was
motivated by revenge. An appointment was made, and Kitty
reported to the Professor's laboratory.
At first, the grizzled old scientist was concerned
about the, er, personal details: "I expected a
man," he finally said gruffly, "but you'll
do." Of course, this being 1940, his housekeeper,
Mrs Jackson, was pressed into temporary (and reluctant)
service as chaperone, while Kitty disrobed behind a
screen and the Professor administered some mysterious
injection. Then an apparatus worthy of Dr Frankenstein
was cranked up, and gradually the shadow of a woman
faded into an empty space.
"She's gone!" The experiment was a success,
and the Professor set off to inform Richard but
Kitty had better things to do. Muttering something about
"Growley", she took off for points unknown.
The Professor came back with Richard, but his Invisible
Woman had, er, disappeared.
Back at the workplace, the invisible Kitty followed
through on her plan, frightening snooty buyers and,
more important, scaring the meanness out of management.
Mr. Growley would never be the same again, and Kitty's
fellow models would never know just how this change
of heart came to pass.
Richard, mostly prodded by his manservant George, decided
that the Professor had finally gone mad. Meanwhile,
more sinister figures had seen the Professor's advertisement.
The notorious Blackie, out of reach of the law, dispatched
his henchpersons to find the Professor and swipe his
process, so he could return home unnoticed. The thugs
and Kitty arrived at the laboratory at the same time,
and when the slickest of the thugs, a fellow named "Foghorn",
posed as a "fellow scientist" to win the Professor's
confidence, Kitty was happy to expose the fraud. Shortly
thereafter, Kitty finally returned to visibility, and
the Professor implored her to undergo the process one
more time, so as to persuade Richard that it really
worked. Not that Richard was going to wait around to
be persuaded; he decided to go on an impromptu fishing
trip rather than listen to the Professor again.
But the Professor wasn't about to give up. He and Kitty
arrived at Richard's cabin by the lake; she disrobed,
and they waited. Meanwhile, the cold and damp gave way
to cold and rainy, and it occurred to the Professor
that maybe they shouldn't have left Kitty's clothes
outside. And as he hung up the garments on a makeshift
clothesline and as Kitty, unclad and freezing,
kept sneaking drinks Richard returned, and was
startled by what he didn't see, though he was sure it
wasn't worth seeing: "Any girl who'd become invisible
can't be very easy on the eyes." Kitty, miffed,
demanded to be returned to visibility, but the formula
hadn't worn off yet, and wouldn't, said the Professor,
Having made his, um, presentation, the Professor retired
for the night, and Richard and Kitty were left to snipe
at each other. Finally wearying of his tauntings, she
decided to show him a thing or two, so to speak, and
donned the one item of clothing that wasn't still wet
a pair of stockings. Richard was, to say the
least, taken aback.
"Does the rest of you follow this same interesting
pattern?" he asked.
"None of your business," she snapped.
The next day, Kitty was still invisible, and the Professor,
unable to explain why, suggested they return to the
lab, where they discovered Mrs Jackson stuck in a closet
and the invisibility apparatus stolen. The Professor
found the situation somewhat amusing: they hadn't taken
the injectable reagent, so the thieves couldn't possibly
get it to work. Kitty, however, was disconsolate, and
Richard was getting more anxious to see the rest of
the poor girl. What had been keeping her invisible all
this time? The Professor theorized that it was the effects
of all the drinks at the lodge; he gave her a shot to
counteract the booze, a new dress in which to make an
appearance, and some words of warning: "No alcohol
of any kind. When you dissipate, you disappear."
And that might have been the end of it, except for
a minor problem at Blackie's compound in Mexico. Foghorn
(remember him?) underwent the treatment as a test, and
wound up not only still visible, but with a quavering
falsetto instead of his usual basso profundo. Blackie,
reasoning that the machine by itself wasn't enough to
make him invisible, ordered that the Professor be brought
to him at once. Thugs were dispatched, and the Professor
and Kitty were abducted.
Meanwhile, chez Russell, George reluctantly opened the
door, and a vaguely-familiar figure stepped through.
"I can tell you where they took the girl and the
Professor." It was the newly-vengeful (and still
mezzo-soprano) Foghorn, blowing the whistle on his old
boss. And the three of them headed down to Mexico to
rescue the captives.
At Blackie's hideaway, the Professor, having declined
to cooperate, was tied to a chair, which didn't keep
him from deluging Blackie with some pseudo-psychological
analysis of his criminal career, when Kitty happened
upon a bottle labeled "Pure Grain Alcohol",
and took a swig. "That stuff will melt your bridgework!"
exclaimed one of the thugs. Impossible, said Kitty,
she didn't have any bridgework, and kept on drinking,
and sure enough, she vanished.
Ducking behind the Professor's apparatus to get out
of her dress (thank you, Hays Office), Kitty, emboldened
by her invisibility and just slightly tipsy to boot,
wrought unseen havoc on Blackie's gang, subduing them
while they stared in disbelief. Things were very much
under control when the rescue party arrived, but Kitty
was having so much fun she decided to fight them too
"If he wants me, let him fight for me!"
And so finally, it was Foghorn, with voice and vengeance
both in fine fettle, who dispatched Blackie, but what
Richard wanted to know, of course, was what happened
to Kitty? The cry came from the balcony: "No, no,
anything but that!" Then suddenly, a loud SPLASH!
in the pool, and Richard dived in to rescue her from
what surely must have been a fate worse than death,
and everyone knew it was True Love.
Jump ahead at least a year or so. Richard and Kitty's
baby is on the changing table, and everyone, even the
Professor, is ooh-ing and aah-ing, when suddenly the
baby fades away into nothingness. Perplexity rules,
until the Professor spies a bottle on the side of the
table: rubbing alcohol. "Hereditary," he pronounces,
and our story is ended for now.