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11:16 am: The Invisible Agent (1942)
 It's been snowing off and on. Friday night we watched a couple of Universal's lesser-known sequels to The Invisible Man: The Invisible Agent and The Invisible Man's Revenge, both of which were deeply weird.

The Invisible Agent (1942)
It's like Curt Siodmak saw Leslie Howard disappearing into the shadows at the end of Pimpernel Smith and thought "wouldn't it be great to have an invisible guy fighting nazis?" Unfortunately Frank Raymond/Griffin (grandson of the the original Invisible Man), is a lousy secret agent. He's reasonably heroic in the opening scenes, but once he's invisible, he ruins the heroine's honey trap for an SS officer with childish pranks, stealing food off the the table and moving furniture, until the officer storms out without giving away any information, leaving guards to keep the woman under house arrest.
This sets the pattern for the rest of the movie -- Miss Sorensen is brave, clever and committed, and Griffin keeps screwing up her carefully-laid plans with his wild improvisation, especially once he decides she's working for the Germans. I can headcannon that the paranoia and madness seen in the other Invisible Man movies are setting in, but the picture never actually addresses this; maybe Griffin was just always an arrogant dolt.
I haven't mentioned Peter Lorre yet. He plays Japanese ambassador/spymaster Baron Ikito, and it's a curious portrayal; he eschews yellowface or a stereotypical accent -- in fact it took a few scenes for me to realize the character was even supposed to be Japanese -- and while villainous, he seems more dignified than the cartoonishly evil Nazi officers. In fact he ultimately destroys the main villain. It's not exactly a heel-face turn; Griffin and Sorensen have thrown enough spanners in the works to ruin the German plans to invade America, and Ikito, having been double-crossed by the head German spymaster, fatalistically tells him they've both failed, stabs him, and then quietly commits seppuku. The sleazy-comical officer Miss Sorensen was seducing in her opening scenes seems set to ironically come out on top, but gets shot by his own soldiers. Miss Sorensen flies herself and Griffith to safety (by this time I'd have abandoned him) and the last scene is of him recovering in hospital, learning she really is an Allied agent, and refusing to tell her how he became visible again because "it's a military secret." She'll probably figure it out anyway.


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From:heliopausa
Date:February 13th, 2017 01:49 am (UTC)
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Thank you! That's very interesting, especially the business of Peter Lorre's acting, and how the cool, courteous (am I reading too much in?) Japanese enemy is contrasted with the easily angered, buffoonish German enemy. You inspired me to go to see if I could find a clip of him as Ikito on the internet, and found the first five minutes of the film on Youtube - his toying with the guillotine was nicely menacing.
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