An ace safecracker is broken out of jail by a mysterious woman, who takes him to a house out in the country where invisibility experiments are being conducted. Of course, this leads to our antihero getting–you guessed it–transparent and stealing both radioactive material and cash.
The Amazing Transparent Man was directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, probably the best director to work almost exclusively within Hollywood’s “Poverty Row” studios. He actually made one big studio film, The Black Cat, for Universal (and starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi), but that was his only one. I’ve read that he was barred from working for the big studios because he had an affair with a married woman and caused her to divorce her husband…and the husband just happened to be related to the head of Universal Studios. Tough break, there. On the positive side, however, Ulmer married her, and they remained married until his death in 1971.
Even though it’s not the best film you’ll ever see, The Amazing Transparent Man has a lot going for it: a rapid pace, a fairly interesting plot, and a great cast of Psychotronic regulars–featuring top-billed Marguerite Chapman, who had been in Flight to Mars in 1951, and Douglas Kennedy (as safecracker Joey Faust), who had just been in The Alligator People and Rockabilly Baby over at 20th Century-Fox and in The Bonnie Parker Story for AIP. Also, it’s an incredibly short film, running somewhere in the neighborhood of 58 minutes, so one doesn’t have too much time to get bored with it before it’s over.
The Amazing Transparent Man appears to have had a troubled release history. All of the posters that I’ve been able to find for it list it as “An MCP Picture.” While most DVD copies of the film start with the main titles with no studio logos, I have seen a couple that have a logo that states that the film is an “Exclusive Roadshow Attraction” released through MCP. The fly in the ointment is that every pressbook (the advertising manual for a film that comes from the studio) that I’ve ever seen for The Amazing Transparent Man lists it as an American International Pictures release. All I can guess (and, as I so often do, I’m wandering into the land of conjecture here) is that MCP planned to release the film, going so far as to have the posters printed and the “Roadshow” logo shot, before running into financial difficulties. AIP then stepped in as the film’s theatrical distributor, but since posters had already been printed, AIP used those to send out to theaters. It looks like only the pressbook was created by AIP, as it’s the only advertising material that carries the AIP logo. In fact, even the trailer says that the film is an MCP release. I suppose that it’s also possible that MCP did a regional release of the film, then handed it over to AIP to go national with it. Again, this is all conjecture, and if anyone reading this knows the real scoop, I’d love for you to write in and let me know.
Since The Amazing Transparent Man’s copyright has lapsed, putting it into the public domain, you can find copies of it everywhere. It regularly shows up in those 20- and 50-movie packs put out by the likes of Mill Creek, and it’s naturally all over YouTube. If you want to watch the full movie, you’ve got your pick of several different versions, including a converted-to-3D version and the MST3K version. Out of all the ones that I checked, this one seemed to have the best picture quality.
Of course, if all you want is a taste, here’s the trailer:
And even though I’m not 100% sure about it, I’m going to go ahead and put it in my count….