Invisibility Done For Laughs in The Body Disappears (1941)
Warners scored a B-comic bulls-eye with this
sci-fi plus chase frolic revolved around invisibility tests gone haywire. Dotty
scientist Edward Everett Horton is cause of that: this is really his and Willie
Best's vehicle, and what pleasure seeing these two knockabouts in firm
control of happenings. I looked for evidence of The Body Disappears achieving
sleeper class, but drew blanks, and to that add a loss of $32K,despite negative costs at modest $245,000.
Could it be fact of release on literal eve of Pearl Harbor?
(as in 12/6/41) Variety reported at least one engagement "dented by war
and Christmas." If that was the wider case, then folks missed some joy,
The Body Disappears being cheerier than most WB attempts at yok-making (by grim comparison, there'sAffectionately Yoursof the same year). The invisibility
gag always suited comedy better in any case --- James Whale's initial go at a
see-through man was maybe more memorable for laffs than thrills, and certainly
by 1941, the topic was ripe for ridicule. I'm sorry, though, for Shock
Theatre-era youth encountering this foolery rather than straight chills
sleep was bartered for. Certainly The Body Disappearssoundslike serious
business: I went years thinking it was frightful after The Corpse Vanishes
fashion (and consider similarity to The Vanishing Body, Realart's reissue title
for 1934's The Black Cat). Well, sometimes it pays to be wrong, but you'll not
go that way for unexpected fun this is.