An eccentric scientist (John Barrymore) invents an invisibility machine and puts in ad in the paper for a volunteer subject. The volunteer turns out to be an adventurous female model, Kitty Carroll (Virginia Bruce). Soon, mobsters are interested in the machine, and the scientist’s playboy patron (John Howard) is interested in the girl.
Outside of someone becoming invisible, this slight, romantic comedy has no connection to its namesakes. Invisibility doesn’t come from a serum nor does it cause insanity. Instead it comes from a whirling, buzzing machine that would fit into any comedic, mad scientist’s lab. The invisibility device does cause the subject to crave alcohol, thus precipitating plenty of drunken gags.
As the subject is a woman, there’s a lot of focus on her nudity (she’s invisible, not her clothing). How else were you going to get a naked girl in a movie in 1940?
It’s not a bad farce, and everyone in it gives amusing performances, including Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz), Charlie Ruggles, and Shemp Howard (of The Three Stooges), but “amusing” is about as strong a complement as I can come up with. Even by 1940, the invisibility jests were old hat, with Cary Grant and Constance Bennett pulling them off better three years earlier in Topper. While I watched, I found nothing to complain about, nor to cheer at, nor even laugh. I smiled on occasion. If I smile is all you want, this will do.