Plot: Dick Russell (John Howard) is a man of means who is free with his cash, perhaps a little too free, as his financial situation has taken a hit of late. One investment that Dick defends while his handlers insist he leave behind is Professor Gibbs (John Barrymore), an eccentric scientist who has a bright mind, but hasn’t produced much lately despite continued financial support. But he is certain that he has developed a breakthrough, as he has cracked the secret to invisibility, although he needs to find a human test subject to be sure. At the same time, troubled model Kitty (Virginia Bruce) is pushed over the edge by her sadistic boss and when she learns about an offer to earn some cash for science research, she leaps at the chance. But has Gibbs truly mastered the invisible arts and if so, what will become of free spirited Kitty once she has the power to turn invisible at her fingertips?
Entertainment Value: I don’t think I’d call this one a good movie, but it is a fun and offbeat installment in the series, to be sure. The premise is simple enough, but allows for some fresh elements to be woven in and new twists on familiar concepts, such as crooks wanting to use the serum for nefarious purposes. Of course, when Shemp Howard is one of the main criminal thugs, you kind of tell that perhaps this won’t be a serious, hard hitting crime saga. The tone here is eclectic and slapstick, with a broad approach to humor that throws a lot of material out there and while not all of it lands, enough does to make this a fun, brisk watch. The zaniness and broad approach will be too silly for some however, especially those who don’t have an appreciation for b movies. There’s also an odd, unlikely romance that unfolds, but overall the focus here is on humor, so expect a light, comedic experience here.
I think the best part of The Invisible Woman is Virginia Bruce, who turns in an off kilter, but super fun performance. She is given an eccentric character to work with and she dials up the quirkiness, as well as the bold, free spirit traits of Kitty, so she is a strong lead on all fronts. I love the scenes where she has had a few drinks, as she really plays up those scenes. I also think the romantic banter works well too, as Bruce has some solid chemistry with costar John Howard. He is given a rather plain character, but he does well and works off of Bruce for some fun moments. John Barrymore hams it up as the colorful scientist, but his effort feels a little forced. The supporting cast is fine and has some nice comedic talent involved. As I said, this one is not a classic and comes off as a broad, inconsistent b movie, but I have fun with The Invisible Woman and when it lands, the humor is quite good. This is a tough recommendation however, as fans of the series will likely find it to be too removed from the others, but those who like silly, ham handed b movie comedies should take a look.