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AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN, THE(director: Edgar G. Ulmer; screenwriter: Jack Lewis; cinematographer: Meredith M. Nicholson; editor: Jack Ruggiero; music: Darrell Calker; cast: Marguerite Chapman (Laura Matson), Douglas Kennedy (Joey Faust), James Griffith (Major Paul Krenner), Ivan Triesault (Dr. Peter Ulof), Boyd ‘Red’ Morgan (Julian), Carmel Daniel (Maria Ulof); Runtime: 58; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lester D. Guthrie; AIP; 1960)

“I found myself enjoying this cheapie…”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A low-budget black-and-white sci-fier from director Edgar G. Ulmer with the familiar genre theme earnestly played out of the “lunatic who wants to conquer the world.” Ulmer’s effort had little going for it except for a few humorous scenes and an attempt to seriously reflect on America’s xenophobia during the 1950s. The special-effects were cheesy, the dialogue was hardly memorable, and the implausible story wasn’t moving. Yet, I found myself enjoying this cheapie as a guilty pleasure, but wishing Ulmer had put more energy into his secret formula.

An embittered and dangerous career criminal and expert safe-cracker, Joey Faust (Douglas Kennedy), is busted out of prison by trampy Laura Matson (Marguerite Chapman). She’s the girlfriend and works for deranged ex-major, Paul Krenner (James Griffith), who setup the escape up for Faust to steal radioactive uranium from the government’s secure vaults. Krenner wants to create an invisible army and conquer the world by nuking it. In Krenner’s hideaway ranch, his base of operation is conducted in his fully equipped lab. He has a nuclear scientist survivor of the concentration camps, Dr. Peter Ulof (Triesault), forcefully working for him because he keeps the scientist’s young daughter Maria locked up in a storeroom as his insurance that Ulof will help him or else his daughter will be harmed. Olof has experimented his invisible ray machine on a guinea pig and has successfully shown that he can be made invisible and then turned back into visibility. Krenner has a loyal bodyguard Julian (Morgan), who is lured into helping him because he believes his son is alive and Krenner will be able to free him from captivity if he assists the madman. Laura is in it only for the dough promised. While Faust is offered a thousand dollars, but bullies Krenner into a $25,000 fee for each job pulled.

When Faust is made invisible he steals the uranium, but talks Laura into becoming his forty percent partner in a bank robbery. The invisible rays wear off in the middle of the heist as the experiment has some defects, and as a result Faust is identified. This angers Krenner that Laura and Faust double-crossed him, as it now becomes up to the asocial Faust to save the world from a possible invisible army invasion and rescue the scientist’s hostage-held daughter.

The film concludes on a serious note, as Ulmer asks the audience: Wouldn’t the world be better off without such risky experiments as making individuals invisible, as there’s always the danger that it can get into the hands of the wrong people? The most amusing scene, one that was priceless and made the film worth seeing, was with the heartless and invisible Faust bargaining hardball style with the ruthless Krenner for more money. For Krenner, power was what it’s all about, while for Faust it was the almighty dollar.

REVIEWED ON 10/14/2002 GRADE: C +

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”