Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Beulah Bondi, Frances Drake
THE INVISIBLE RAY synopsisDiane Rukh (Frances Drake) stares out the window from their home in the Carpathian Mountains upon the road below. Mother Rukh (Violet Kemble Cooper), seated in a chair, inquires whether her son Dr. Janos Rukh (Boris Karloff) is still working in his lab. Diane confirms this, saying that he is preparing for the delegation of scientists due to arrive from England. Rising from her chair with help from Diane, Mother Rukh comes to the window with her cane.
She tells Diane that on a day like this her son Janos discovered the ray from Andromeda while working with his late father. It was holding the lens during that discovery which caused her permanent blindness. They discuss the brilliance of Janos and how he was rejected by other scientists and called a charlatan. Diane says she was told to watch for the headlights coming and notify Janos. Mother Rukh returns to her seat and Diane looks out the window again. Seeing the car approaching, she announces that she will go tell her husband. She dons her cape and goes through an outer walkway to another building where she rings a bell and enters. Coming into the lab, she tells Janos (who is gazing through a large telescope) that the visitors are arriving. He says he is ready and confident.The car pulls up and several people get out and enter the house. Diane greets Lady Arabella Stevens (Beulah Bondi) who introduces her husband Sir Francis Stevens (Walter Kingsford), Dr. Felix Benet (Bela Lugosi) and her nephew Ronald Drake (Frank Lawton). They are introduced to Mother Rukh who speaks but remains seated. Janos enters and greets each one and is greeted by Lady Arabella who presents her nephew Ronald who she says is a mapmaker and will be valuable to the work in Africa. Janos tells them he has a presentation to show them.In the lab, he shows his telescope, explaining and showing a device which will capture a ray from Andromeda containing pictures and information from thousands of years ago. Dr. Benet looks at Sir Francis with a knowing look of doubt between them. Janos attaches the device to the telescope and tells them to wait a few moments while he prepares the projector. Coming back from another room wearing a welding mask, he reaches into a panel and starts a series of electrical devices which give off sparks and energy. He announces he is ready. Diane leads the way to seats which are protected from dangerous rays by a new kind of barium crown glass, which is explained by Janos. He tells them about the distances the ray has traveled and turns on the projector, which is the type used in planetariums to show outer space. As he narrates, the picture shows a movement that passes our moon, Saturn, Orion and finally Andromeda. He tells Sr. Francis that he had previously predicted a meteor which struck Earth many years ago in Africa, telling him that this will prove it. As they watch, the view changes direction back toward Earth as seen from Andromeda but millions of years ago. A meteor is shown hurtling towards Earth and striking in the southern portion of Africa. Those viewing this are stunned. Various comments are made, saying this is no hoax.Back in the house, brandy is served. Sir Francis marvels at the discovery to Janos, asking when he will publish it to the scientific world. He says it is not yet ready. Sir Francis says it would be good to locate this meteor and see what it contains. Dr. Benet suggests that Janos join them in an expedition. Janos says he has no standing before their scientific congress and that he had previously been declared unorthodox and discredited. Sir Francis tells him their expedition will not be under the auspices of any scientific association. Dr. Benet says that he will be doing them an honor. Janos accepts, but Mother Rukh tells him no. She says he may make an important discovery but that it will not bring him happiness. She reminds him that Janos is not good with people but is better suited to remain with his experiments.A scientific magazine is shown that has an article about Dr. Benets expedition to Africa to recover Radium X. It mentions that Dr. Rukh has separated from the others. Meanwhile, at a camp in Nigeria, Dr. Benet shows Sir Francis how he has been healing natives by a medicine he derived from sunlight. A young native child is shown and given back to his mother. Diane sits in her tent, hot, tired and bored to death since her husband left them to go on his own expedition. She emerges from her tent only to see Lady Arabella and Ronald returning from a hunting trip. Seeing him stirs her. She turns away, not wanting to look. A conversation with Ronald and Lady Arabella about Diane reveals that they are interested in each other, but that Ronald dares not act because she is married. Meanwhile Sir Francis says he is sick of staying in Africa and will not remain for the sake of anyone.A safari group accompanying Janos arrives near a volcano when suddenly a loud buzzing and clicking sound coming from one of the boxes carried by a native frightens him. It is revealed to be a Giger counter showing the presence of radioactivity. Janos takes the machine and approaches a site giving off steam or smoke. He tells the leader to send a message back to the camp by his fastest runner. A runner is selected by the leader and Janos writes out a message, telling him to give it to Diana and wait for an answer. He says he has found what he is looking for, but not to tell anyone where they are.Antelope stew is served at the camp, but not everyone is interested in eating. Diane and Ronald avoid glances over the table at each other, but it is obvious that they are mutually interested in each other and this causes great discomfort. About this time the runner arrives and the note is given to Diane, who reads it. She reports only that Janos will not return right away but believes he is on the right track. Going to her tent, she asks the leader to meet with her and the runner. A small team is prepared to accompany her to see her husband. This is observed by Ronald, who then confronts Diane of her plans. She tells him she must go to her husband right away. He tells her hes not surprised that she wouldnt disappoint any man.Dressed in a protective suit and helmet, Janos is lowered into the volcano by rope controlled by natives. He uses a mining hammer to extract a sample of glowing, sparkling rock which he puts into a safe container. Returning to the natives, he is told they do not like the area because there are many devils. After the leader tells him they all want to leave, he tells them to watch a rock standing alone on a precipice. Loading the rock sample into a projector, he focuses it on the rock and shines the beam. The rock is disintegrated and melted before their eyes. He tells them they may leave if they want to, but threatens to turn the ray on them if they do. They beg and pledge their continued support.That night a meal is brought to Janos by one of the natives. He tells him to take the lantern inside the tent so it will not attract bugs. When the light is taken away, Janos begins glowing in his hands and face. Seeing this, the native cries out in horror. Janos sees his hands glowing and enters the tent. Turning down the lantern, he grabs a mirror and sees his face glowing. When the light is turned on, the glow cannot be seen. He remarks to himself that it has poisoned him. Sitting down on his cot to think, the dog approaches him and he reaches to pet it. The dog dies, and Janos realizes that his touch is deadly.Diane and her party arrive and she is pointed toward his tent. Seeing her coming, Janos draws the tent closed and turns out his lantern, hoping she will not enter. She notices the light go out and stops at the tent door to call him. Not wanting her to see or touch him, Janos questions why she came and tells her she must leave in the morning. She is shown a tent for her to stay the night, but is heartbroken and cries upon her cot. Janos gathers up the rock sample along with his mask and protective suit and starts out into the dark. Passing close by her tent, he hears her sobbing and pauses.Dr. Benet is shown mixing chemicals in his tent. Wearing full protective gear, Janos shows up with the runner and calls out to Benet, entering the tent. He tells Benet not to touch him, saying that he found the element and it is ten times more powerful than radium but that it has poisoned him. They step outside into the darkness and Benet witnesses Janos hands and face glowing. Confessing that his touch is deadly, they re-enter the tent. Janos asks Benet for help. Benet says there is an antidote for radium poisoning which is made from radium. Janos gives him a sample of the element and his chemical analysis which he has written down. Benet says he will begin at once to develop an antidote and that Janos can hide in a small equipment tent.Diane leaves on her way back to base camp. Meanwhile, Dr. Benet wakes Janos, and shows him in the dark that his skin no longer glows. He tells him that the antidote was given him at midnight and that the effect is only temporary. Touching his hand, he demonstrates that Janos is not lethal at this time, but cautions him that he must take doses of this daily for the rest of his life or the condition will recur and eventually kill him. Janos is given the formula on paper as well as a kit containing samples of the antidote and a syringe.Diane and Ronald have a discussion about their relationship, saying there is no point in denying it now. At this point a bell rings, calling them to supper.Natives sound jungle drums. Dr. Benet arrives at Janos camp and approaches him. When asked how Benet found him, he is told they followed the sound of the drums, which stated that a white man had found magic in the mountains. They go into the tent and Janos tells him that he has harnessed the power of the element to destroy cities. Benet asks if he can develop its power to heal and do good. Saying that will come later, he brags about his great discovery. Benet tells him that this was anticipated by himself and Sir Francis and that they must all share the discovery. Benet says Stevens is on his way to present the sample to the International Scientific Congress meeting in Paris. Janos argues that it is his discovery and says they are stealing it from him. Benet assures him that Janos will receive credit for it but reminds him they are united for a common purpose and that this element is too powerful and important to entrust to just one man. He says that Diane has taken ill and gone back to England. Janos is given a note from his wife, telling him that she believes that he no longer loves her and is now involved with someone else. Benet confirms that it is Drake. This further infuriates Janos, who tells Benet to leave before he turns the ray on him. Benet leaves.A newspaper shows that the Benet expedition has left Africa and that Dr. Rukh has returned to his lab in the Carpathian Mountains. Inside, Janos turns the ray on his mothers eyes, hoping to restore her sight. After a few moments, she confirms that she can see. She tells him he has much work to do, but he tells her he is leaving in the morning for Paris. She warns him not to go, for he will find tragedy there. In case of tragedy, he says, keep the formula which he has written down and sealed in an envelope for his mother to keep.In Paris we see Dr. Benet in his office who sees many patients, using the ray to heal. One girl has her sight restored and she and her parents rejoice. At this moment Janos arrives and Benet tells him that his discovery is helping to heal many people. Benet tells Janos that the Nobel Prize has been awarded to Janos and that all Paris is waiting to honor him. Janos says it looks like he is late again and declares that only he can correctly harness its power. Benet reminds him that is why the discovery was too important to entrust to just one man. Saying the counter-active is still working, Janos asks about Diane. He is told that she is working for Lady Arabella and that she and Ronald are in love. Benet tells him that Diane will do nothing until she hears from Janos. He replies that will happen soon enough and leaves.Wandering through the city, Janos finds a man who looks like himself and promises to help the man. About the same height and build, they go off together.Lady Arabella is seen dictating to Diane, who types onto paper. The maid comes bringing the newspaper and giving it to Arabella. She reads the headline and gives it to Diane. It shows that Dr. Rukh has been found dead, his body mutilated by the effects of the Radium X.Diane and Ronald are seen at their wedding at the Church of the Six Saints. As they are leaving, Janos watches from a distance as they get into a car to leave. He looks up at the statues of the six saints and pictures each of them as representing himself, Benet, Diane, Ronald, Arabella and Francis. Taking a room facing the church, he plots to kill each of the other five people.At the Stevens home, Arabella is talking to Benet about the marriage and noted that Sir Francis has not come down from his room. She sends the butler up to see about him. Before the butler can get halfway up the stairs, one of the maids comes screaming into his arms. He goes up to see while Arabella questions the maid. She cannot speak but only screams. Rushing back down, the butler calls for Dr. Benet to come, saying only Sir Francis! Sir Francis!. Entering his room, they find Francis dead on his bed with a look of horror on his face. Dr. Benet asks for an ultraviolet camera which he uses to shoot pictures of Francis eyes. Developing them, he sees captured in the reflection on the mans cornea the image of Janos.The next day there is a disturbance in the square below. The landlady (May Beatty) brings Janos his breakfast and the morning paper, telling him that one of the statues was destroyed. He sees in the paper the death of Sir Francis. Gazing at the second statue, he calls the name of Lady Arabella.The next day the papers announce the death of Lady Arabella, the third death in wake of the curse of Radium X. Diane and Ronald come into the bedroom where Dr. Benet and the authorities are with the body. He tells Diane not to look and for Ronald to take her away. Then he asks to show the Chief of the Surete (Georges Renavent) some evidence. As the lights are turned out, the cover is pulled back to reveal a glowing handprint on the victims neck. Benet says it was done by someone poisoned by Radium X. Meanwhile Diane blames herself for the deaths, saying they would all still be alive if she hadnt come on the expedition and married Ronald. He tells her not to think like that, saying he will fight with all his strength. She says how can you fight something you cannot see or touch?The paper headline shows that the second statue has been destroyed and people are upset. A discussion is held with Benet, Ronald and the Chief about Janos. It is suggested that the two men go into hiding. Ronald proposes a trap to draw Janos so they can arrest him. Benet says for the papers to announce that the remaining three will leave for an unknown destination after holding a lecture on Benets experiments with Radium X. He will invite distinguished scientists who will only be admitted by card which the police promise to verify. Benet warns that if the police fail to stop him at the gate that the house lights will be darkened at midnight (the time of the lecture) so that Janos can be seen glowing. It is a risk they are willing to take.The night of the lecture, the police are seen checking the cards of each scientist who enters. In the rain the last scientist, Professor Meiklejohn (Frank Reicher) is seen walking with his umbrella. Janos appears and stops him, introducing himself as someone else who remembers his lecture on radiology. Saying he is on the way to the lecture, the Professor locates his card in his pocket. Janos suggests they have a drink of Napoleon Brandy from his flask. They step aside and the flask is handed to him to drink. The touch kills Meiklejohn, who collapses. Janos takes the card and enters in his place. The police confirm him and he enters but remains outside so he can observe through a window.Inside, Benet greets everyone and tells them he must make final adjustments. Entering his lab with a gun, Benet looks around and heads for the outside door, opening it. Janos comes in and confronts him. The light is turned off, showing his glowing face and hands. Janos tells him he will kill the remaining three. Benet asks if he ever feels like he used to before the poison altered his brain. Janos answers not often now.. When Benet reaches for his gun, Janos grabs his arm, killing him.Diane waits upstairs but is very anxious to come down. There is a knock at the door and it is opened, revealing Mother Rukh entering. Ronald greets her and she is told that Diane is upstairs. At that moment the lights are cut in the whole place. Diane lights a candle and Janos is seen going upstairs with his glowing face. She rushes into the bedroom and tries to close the door but he forces it open. He approaches to try and touch her but hesitates. Trying again, he announces he is unable to kill her and goes out. She faints. Outside on the landing, he faces his mother who tells him he broke the first rule of science. He says he needs time so he can kill Drake, taking out his kit for more of the antidote. As he does this, Mother Rukh strikes it with her cane tip, destroying the contents. As he begins to smoke, he tells her that maybe its better this way. Turning away, he goes upstairs and crashes through a window, falling to the ground below as a fireball. There is nothing left. The head of the Scientific Congress congratulates Mother Rukh for her sons work. Handing him the envelope, she says that he is dead but part of him will continue to help mankind.