Who’s in it?: Lon Chaney, Jr.; Marian Carr (Kiss Me Deadly); Max Showalter (Ward Cleaver in the first episode of Leave It to Beaver, Sixteen Candles); Robert Shayne (Inspector Henderson from The Adventures of Superman)
What’s it about?: A homicidal criminal (Chaney) is accidentally made invulnerable by a completely sane scientist (Shayne) and uses his new power to take revenge on his double-crossing team.
How is it?: Chaney is horrible in it. His drinking was so bad at this point in his career that he was unable to remember lines, so they made his character mute. And for some reason, the director chose to have a LOT of close-up, reaction shots to Chaney’s glassy, twitching eyes. It’s impossible to watch Chaney in it without getting really sad.
What makes the film bearable is Showalter as the good-natured cop in charge of closing the robbery case. There’s still a bunch of money missing, so in addition to Chaney’s revenge, finding the loot takes up most of the plot. Showalter reminds me of William H. Macy. He’s so smiley and affable that he’s easy to latch onto and root for.
I also like Carr as the burlesque dancer whom everyone thinks is Chaney’s girlfriend. She’s not though, and I love the simple, believable explanation she gives for how she got involved in the whole mess. There are a couple of backstories like that: how Showalter became a cop, for instance. Instead of coming up with dramatic motivations for everyone, the script is comfortable with, “Yeah, it seemed like the right thing to do after college.” It’s mundane and kind of stupid, but so is life. I dig it.