William Troy (essay date 1933)
SOURCE: "Films: The Invisible Man'," in The Nation, New York, Vol. CXXXVII, No. 3571, Dec. 13, 1933, p. 688.
[In the following essay, Troy praises Whale for his direction of The Invisible Man.]
There are two very good reasons why the version of H. G. Wells's Invisible Man at the old Roxy is so much better than this sort of thing usually turns out to be on the screen. The first is that James Whale, who is responsible for the direction, has taken a great deal of pains with something that is usually either reduced to a minimum or altogether ignored in these attempts to dramatize the more farfetched hypotheses of science—namely, setting. Ordinarily we are precipitated abruptly and without warning into the strange and violent world of the scientific romancer's imagination. We are given no time to make our adjustment to the logic of this new world which is so different from the world to which we are accustomed. The result is of course that we never truly believe in this new world: it is too abstract, too intellectually conceived, to take us in very successfully through our feelings. For this reason one is always tempted to lay down as a first principle for writers and directors dealing with the extraordinary the principle that to respond to the unusual we must first be reminded of the commonplace. And James Whale's success in observing the principle makes one more convinced than ever that it should be regarded as a general one. He begins with a carefully documented picture of a small country inn in England: the people,...
(The entire section is 648 words.)