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Film / The Invisible Woman (1940)

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This Universal film, released in 1940, featured the first female Invisible Streaker in motion pictures, and the first one to be Played for Laughs, in defiance of the anti-nudity clause in the Hays Code.

Professor Gibbs (John Barrymore) is seeking human test subjects for his invisibility machine. His newspaper ad is answered by Kitty Carroll (Virginia Bruce), a gorgeous but oppressed fashion model. After she becomes invisible, Kitty exacts revenge against her former boss, Mr. Growley (Charles Lane). Meanwhile, a criminal gang plots to steal the invisibility machine.

Not to be confused with the Invisible Woman of Marvel Comics.

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Tropes in this film:

  • Babies Ever After: The film's epilogue reveals Richard and Kitty have since had a child together, and it turns out Kitty's invisibility has become hereditary.
  • Beautiful All Along: Used alongside a case of Dramatic Irony. Russell thinks Kitty volunteered for the professor's experiment due to, in his words, "Any girl that'd become invisible can't be very easy on the eyes." He's proven wrong when he finally sees a visible Kitty, who he falls at Love at First Sight (pun not intended).
  • The Casanova: Subverted, Professor Gibbs' benefactor, Richard Russell, has been known to fall for women left and right, only for them to sue and take off with a part of his fortune. As a result he's near broke and relying on Gibbs' invisibility device to recover his losses.
  • Chekhov's Gun: After Kitty has too many glasses of brandy, it's revealed that alcohol prolongs the invisibility's effects. This turns out to be at an advantage when she's kidnapped by gangsters.
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  • Damsel out of Distress: Kitty in the climax, when she uses alcohol to reactivate her invisibility to take down the mobsters that kidnapped her and Gibbs.
  • Fainting: George, Russell's butler, does this constantly due to all the invisibility antics surrounding him.
  • Gold Digger: Russell has had encounters with a number of them, resulting in him losing almost all of his fortune.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Kitty.
  • Instant Soprano: A rare example of it not being related to a Groin Attack, as this is the result of going through the invisibility device without taking the professor's injection, as the thug Foghorn finds out.
  • Invisible Streaker: Kitty becomes one, having entered the invisibility machine naked.
  • Mean Boss: Mr. Growley.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted in that there are two Kittys in the film, the main lead and Professor Gibbs' cat. Leads to a humorous moment to when an invisible Kitty runs off and Gibbs calls out for her, only to shoo off the cat.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Invisible!Kitty delivers one to Mr. Growley as she strips to nothing in his office.
  • She's Got Legs: One scene has invisible!Kitty wearing only pantyhose, because the rest of her clothing is sopping wet from being left out in the rain.
  • Terrible Trio: The three thugs named Foghorn, Bill, and Frankie who were sent by gangster Blackie Cole to steal Profesor Gibbs' invisibility device.
  • Test Subject for Hire: Kitty Carroll gets involved in the adventure when she answers Professor Gibbs' newspaper ad offering $300 to anyone willing to participate in an invisibility experiment.
  • Two-Keyed Lock: A variation, In order to achieve invisibility, a person must take an injection and go through the professor's device. If not done, the results are...odd.
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