Originally screened in 1960, The Amazing Transparent Man is indeed transparent, but there is nothing amazing about it. Written by Jack Lewis (a former marine turned writer) and directed by Edgar G. Ulmer (whose genre credits include 1934’s The Black Cat, 1951’s The Man from Planet X, and 1960’s Beyond the Time Barrier) The Amazing Transparent Man suffers from a mediocre budget, but it also suffers from a limited script that does not much to the invisibility genre that it wishes to capitalize. Most viewers will find it hard to get through the movie, although it is only 57 minutes in length.
The story beings with the jailbreak of safecracker Joey Faust (Douglas Kennedy), who is given a ride by femme fatale Laura Matson (Marguerite Chapman). The duo heads to the home of one Paul Krenner (James Griffith), a former military man who plans to conquer the world by creating an army of invisible soldiers. Krenner is a master of manipulation, as everyone under his “employ” has been blackmailed into service. Krenner is forcing Dr. Peter Ulof (Ivan Trisault), a survivor of World War II, to perfect an invisibility machine that uses nuclear materials. Ulof is resistant to the idea, as the radiation used will always kills the subject turned invisible, but Krenner continues to push the issue, using Ulof’s daughter Maria (Carmel Daniel) as leverage.
Krenner promises Faust gobs of money if he can help him steal nuclear materials so that Ulof can continue with his refinements. At first Faust refuses, but eventually he agrees, becoming an experimental subject of the invisibility ray once he sees that an experiment rodent suffers no ill effects after turning invisible and later become visible again.
Faust pulls off his first job okay, but on the second job he becomes invisible while still robbing a bank. Angry over the incident, Faust returns to the house, but he does not find Krenner. While talking with Ulof, he discovers the awful truth about the invisibility ray and sets off to free everyone under Krenner’s clutches. At first the escape works, but Krenner steps in and kills poor Matson. It is then up to Faust to put an end to Krenner, and the end result is the trigger of nuclear material, unleashing an atomic bomb! As with movies of this era, a coda has Ulof presenting a short lecture about humanity’s latest folly in science.
The low budget is only partly to blame for this mediocre entry. Locations are limited, the effects are minimal and uninspiring, and the scientist’s lab is shoddy, with the invisibility ray in particular seemingly made of cardboard and scraps of other machines. However, the true problem with the movie is the screenplay, which has too many talk-heavy scenes, an overt lack of action, and some rather hilarious moments, such as the atomic bomb sequence. Director Edgar G. Ulmer has a great eye while filming some sequences, but he does not do well with the actors, some of whom come off as aloof and bored.
The Amazing Transparent Man may of interest as a curio to genre enthusiasts or to those who get a kick out of watching low-budget turkeys, but those looking for something fun to watch should go elsewhere.