Invisible Thief (1909)

Article 2063 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-7-2006
Posting Date: 4-6-2007
Directed by Ferndinand Zecca
Featuring an unknown cast

A man picks up a copy of H. G. Wells’s novel, and decides that he can make himself invisible as well. He does so, and uses his power for robbery.

Adventures in Movie-Watching: The biggest problem with going through Don Willis’ first edition of “Horror and Science Fiction Films” is that it is so chock-full of unknown early silent titles (most of which are no doubt lost to the world as well) that on the day of this writing, it took me a good two hours of going through the book until I found a movie to watch that I happened to have in my collection. The trouble is – I’m not sure it’s the right movie. Let me explain – Don Willis lists a movie called INVISIBLE THIEF, a 1909 movie from Pathe that might have been directed by Ferdinand Zecca (he has a question after the name). My search on IMDB turns up two early silent movies with the title. One is a 1905 movie called LES INVISIBLES with the English title INVISIBLE THIEF directed by Gaston Velle and from Pathe. The other is a 1909 movie called L’HOMME INVISIBLE with the English title AN INVISIBLE THIEF directed by Ferdinand Zecca with no studio listed. The latter movie matches on both the year and tentative director, but the earlier movie matches exactly on title (without the word “AN”) and studio. Which movie is the one listed in the book?

The copy I have of the movie lists the title INVISIBLE THIEF (no “AN”), but lists no year, director or studio. The latter movie has no reviews on IMDB, and the earlier one has one, and the plot as described matches that of the one I saw. The question is: how do I reconcile this information?

Well, I just decided to go ahead and review what I had, and if it’s the wrong movie, I’ll let God figure it out. Once again, there’s not a whole lot of plot, but it makes some impressive use of stop-motion photography, wries, and other tricks to tell its story. And that’s about all I have to say about it; sometimes I find it really difficult to generate strong opinions about some of the very early silents.

Let’s see how long it takes me to find a movie tomorrow.

P.S. Thanks once again to Doctor Kiss for helping me out; this is the 1909 Zecca film, not the Velle film.


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