A determined(quietly deranged under the surface) Major Krenner(James Griffith)wishes to possess the ability to create an invisible army and enlists, through an arranged escape, notorious criminal Joey Faust(Douglas Kennedy)a thief and all-around bad hombre, to steal money from banks while completely unseen thanks to the genius of dying former Nazi scientist Dr. Peter Ulof(Ivan Triesault)(..the "former Nazi" part is more subtly mentioned in the screenplay never elaborating what country he worked for, but the horrifying description of what he did to his wife, through undetermined experiments, one can see who he represented considering the atrocities committed). Ulof's daughter is being held captive in a locked room and if he doesn't define his experimental invisible formula, which works through a peculiar use of radiation using a unique method regarding X-rays and how they can completely transform the body, then her safety is in danger. The Major uses those under his watch through various means..his gunsel, Julian(Boyd Morgan), believes Krenner knows the whereabouts of his son, supposedly held captive in Europe, Joey is an escaped con for whom can be sent back to prison(..dead, more than alive, since his body's worth 5 grand either way), and femme fatale Laura(Marguerite Chapman)who fears for her own life if she even decided to leave her employer. But, soon double-crosses will be attempted and we see that if one toys with radioactive material for use in corruptive schemes only bad can come from it. In this respect, director Edgar G Ulmer doesn't abandon his noir roots, for nearly every character has been(..or is) corrupt in one way or another. Major Krenner, wounded not only physically by war(..the shrapnel which ended his military career, Krenner habitually tosses around in his hand, quite a reminder of what ruined what could've been)but haunted by it psychologically as well. Faust, using the invisibility as a means to continue his profession without the restraints once holding him. Scientist Ulof, haunted by his shady alliances with a government whose atrocities committed against humanity exploded in his face with the murder of his wife by his own hands, and now forced, against his will, to continue experiments which could lead to a threat against the United States by outside forces thanks to his invisibility creation. And, Laura, a dame all too willing to stab her employer in the back for cold hard cash in an alliance with Faust. Blindly loyal Julian knows what his employer is up to in using the others for the benefits of invisibility, and is all too wiling to hold his shot gun pointedly at Faust and others who dare try to escape.
Basically, this is Ulmer's take on THE INVISIBLE MAN, using the dangers of atomic energy as a type of lesson to preach against. When Faust is invisible, the other actors pretend he's there by mimicking his presence(..such as when he attacks Krenner) This particular film shows Faust, in and out of stages of invisibility, including one ingenious sequence where parts of him appear and disappear after he holds up a bank. Ulmer, seemingly always burdened with little budget to work with, has a precious few scenes where objects move by themselves. Ulmer counts on his cast to parlay to the viewer where Faust is..not an easy task, but I give the cast credit for giving it the ole college try. But, in my opinion, this is more of a noir cheapie with sci-fi undertones..a mad scientist B-movie regarding the dangers of tampering with science for our own personal gain. I know Ulmer often gets a bum wrap for making no-budget films which show the lack of funds he had available to him, but I like the idea of a cross between the mad-scientist and noir sub-genres. I like the fact that this motley group is doomed right from the start because when you have untrustworthy types, with their own greedy agendas, and a dangerous weapon(..in this case invisibility and the tools used to create it)only bad can come from such an enterprise.
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