Plot: Frank Raymond (Jon Hall) operates a print shop and seems to be just an ordinary man, but that isn’t the case. He has a secret that he keeps hidden, but others have been able to uncover the truth. Two Axis spies arrive at the print shop and reveal that his buried secret is known, that he is really Frank Griffin, grandson of the man who cracked the invisibility serum. Of course, the Axis forces would love to have control of the serum and use it to turn the tide of the war, though Frank doesn’t plan to let that happen, no matter how much he is threatened. He uses the serum to vanish from view, then escapes and seeks out assistance from an American agent. Frank agrees to let the serum be used to help the Allies, so long as he is the one subjected to the dangers involved. So he is soon an agent in the war and finds himself drawn into a web of deceit, danger, and of course, potential romance.
Entertainment Value: In an effort to spice up the well worn invisible man formula, this movie turns our lead in a noble spy in the ravages of World War II, in what is played straight, but works as a rather campy propaganda effort. So if you want a more serious movie, you might be frustrated with Invisible Agent, but fans of b movie schlock should be able to have fun here. The story keeps things simple and focus on the usual spy movie tropes, while putting the invisible gimmick to use well, which helps defuse some of the tired conventions involved. The pace is good, though some scenes still drag on a little when the camp value isn’t present. But the movie also has a genuine sense of humor at times, such as the hilarious sequence where a man’s hand is broken and he is then asked to sign a document that praises how he was treated. The Nazis are presented as comic figures for the most part and never as a real threat, just kind of hapless stooges who knock into each other. So there’s humor throughout and that is the best way to approach Invisible Agent, as light b movie fare.
The cast here is an impressive lineup of talent, though aside from some scene chewing, they’re not given a lot to do. But I don’t mind some ham handed antics from time to time and within this propaganda style material, it does lead to some humor, intentional and otherwise. Jon Hall and Cedric Hardwicke turn in solid efforts, under the circumstances and of course, both would return for The Invisible Man’s Revenge and that is kind of cool, given that otherwise, the films feel self contained in nature. Peter Lorre is also here and dials up his performance, so genre and classic film fans should appreciate seeing him devour his scenes here. Ilona Massey plays the double agent role well, while the cast also includes J. Edward Bromberg and Albert Bassermann. This installment is bound to divide audiences, as not everyone appreciates b movie style schlock like this and would rather have a more serious spy tale instead. But if you like over the top propaganda or just can’t get enough of invisible people, Invisible Agent offers some fresh twists on the well established formula.