Ever since the films of Georges Méliès, such as House of the Devil (1896) and Voyage to the Moon (1902), movie audiences have been thrilled with special effects. In 1933 director James Whale [Frankenstein], cinematographer Arthur Edeson [Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, Frankenstein] and special effects pioneer John P. Fulton [Rear Window, Vertigo] pushed the limits of the technology of their day and gave us the stunning The Invisible Man. This film was an artistic triumph and a box office success that spawned a number of sequels over the years. Based on the book by H.G. Wells [War of the Worlds], The Invisible Man is a story about how power can corrupt us and even drive us mad.
Claude Rains, a veteran stage actor, lent his amazing, dramatic voice to the lead character of Dr. Griffin. Boris Karloff was originally considered for the role but turned it down. Colin Clive [Frankenstein] was next in line but he passed as well. It was said that when James Whale heard Rains' voice in a screen test, he instantly knew he had found what he was looking for. Other standouts in the cast include the hysterical Una O'Connor [Bride of Frankenstein] as tavern housekeeper Jenny Hall. She steals nearly every scene she's in and provides some much needed comic relief. Henry Travers [Clarence in It's a Wonderful Life] also makes an appearance as Dr. Cranley. He also played Mr. Bogardus in one of my all time favorite, uber-sentimental films The Bells of St. Marys. The rest of the cast is fine as well with no weak links in the bunch.
The Invisible Man is classic horror at its best and helped to ensure that the genre was here to stay. The version of it I saw was the Universal Studios Classic Monster Collection and it also included a wonderful documentary on the film and its legendary director James Whale. This one is an absolute must see and is on of the great horror films of the 1930's. Don't miss it.
Trivia: Gloria Steward, who played Dr. Griffin's love interest Flora Cranley, is best known for her role as the "old" Rose in Titanic (1997). Furthermore, although uncredited, Jack Pierce did the makeup.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.