For Reel

The Invisible Menace (1938)
November 30, 2015, 6:52 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: John Farrow
2 Stars
The Invisible MenaceThe casting of Boris Karloff is a red herring in this murder mystery, which uses the often menacing actor as a sympathetic patsy. The plot concerns a body discovered by a newly married couple (Eddie Craven and Marie Wilson) on an army base. With the brash Colonel Rogers (Cy Kendall) leading the investigation, Karloff is bullied into admitting guilt after falling under suspicion due to his wrongful incrimination in Haiti years previous. It’s a fairly standard, fast-paced Warner Brothers mystery, but the characters are cardboard cutouts and there is little sense of the escalating stakes that one would expect with a murderer on the loose. Most of the action is confined to an explosives storage building on the base, which provides for an interesting backdrop–whereas many mysteries take place in tight rooms, The Invisible Menace attempts to achieve suspense by suggesting the potential for danger lurking in the shadows around every corner. Karloff’s role is small and he does well as a misunderstood intellectual, and Marie Wilson has a couple of laughs as a Gracie Allen knockoff. Even if the honeymoon subplot feels at odds with the tone of the film, it was an admirable attempt to inject life into this stodgy whodunit.