director Edgar G. Ulmer
If you’re going to watch the documentary Edgar G. Ulmer – The Man Off-screen (2004), which you should, you should squeeze in an Ulmer feature with the film. Now TCM played a number of Ulmer films when they aired this recently but on demand they only had The Amazing Transparent Man (1960) and Detour (1945) to go with it. I’ve seen Detour even fairly recently. The Amazing Transparent Man has been available on Netflix and Hulu Plus, too. The public domain owns most of his films.
But at least on TCM The Amazing Transparent Man is a good print turned electronic copy. So, it was my chosen accompaniment.
Apparently, Ulmer shot The Amazing Transparent Man consecutively with Beyond the Time Barrier (1960) in Texas as a double deal. Ulmer went from production to production through his career, taking what he could get and making each film better than its budget could hope for.
The film opens with a jail break. Major criminal Joey Faust (Douglas Kennedy) is sprung by crafty mastermind Maj. Paul Krenner (James Griffith), who has immigrant scientist Dr. Peter Ulof (Ivan Triesault) under his thumb and a mad plan to create an army of invisible zombies to take over the world. Only first he needs Joey Faust to be his first invisible goon and steal more radioactive materials to get him set in his plan.
It’s a mash-up of crime film and science fiction and clocks in at 59 minutes. Ulmer gets some pretty cool cheap effects for a guinea pig turning invisible and Faust fluctuating back and forth between visibility. He gets good performances from his cast and adds depth to the story about the immigrant scientist whose daughter Krenner has captive, blackmailing the doctor into crimes he would otherwise not commit. Still, it’s not Ulmer’s magnum opus.
It is interesting to see Ulmer’s films in greater quantity and in closer proximity. In the documentary some argued that he never really had an opportunity to develop a “style” working on the cheap, job-to-job, but there are themes and ideas that reach beyond. It’s pretty cool stuff.