The Man Who Wasn’t There (1983)


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The Man Who Wasn’t There Movie Reviews

A below average and overlong comic thriller that trots out tired invisibility effects with limp sex comedy and thin characters.

Low level State Department aide Samuel “Sam” Cooper (Steve Guttenberg) is set to be engaged to his fiancé Amanda (Morgan Hart) but is running late for the ceremony due to mishaps with his boss and several diplomats from minor nations he’s responsible for. At ceremony, Sam encounters an invisible man while changing clothes who is shortly thereafter killed by a gang of goons after an orb in the man’s possession. The man is fatally injured, but after appearing visible/naked and before he dies he gives the orb to Sam telling him to “get it to Runkleman”. Due to the unseemly appearances of the aftermath of the encounter, Sam is forced to go on the run as he’s now accused of murder and is chased by several parties interested in the orb. With the help of his friend Cindy Worth (Lisa Langlois) Sam discovers the orb contains an invisibility formula that works upon being eaten leading the two to go on the run together.

The Man Who Wasn’t There is a 1983 3D action comedy film that was part of the slew of films in the early part of the decade that attempted to capitalize on the short lived revived interest in 3D. Following the success of Friday the 13th 3-D, Paramount commission Friday series producer Frank Mancuso Jr. To make another 3-D film within a year for next Summer with Paramount announcing the untitled 3D film despite no script, cast, or crew attached yet. Under pressure to deliver, Mancuso opted to remake something from Paramount’s prior catalogue of films with the intention of updating and adding 3-D effects to it. Following several rejected pitches that included a 3-D remake of Rosemary’s Baby of all things, Mancuso opted to do a mixture of Foul Play and North by Northwest with invisibility elements. Upon its release, The film opened in 12th place behind other underperforming newcomers Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 and Curse of the Pink Panther while National Lampoon’s Vacation continued to top the box office. The film only made $2.5 million against its $6.5 million budget and with several other 3-D films like Amityville 3-D and Spacehunter also underperforming the 3-D gimmick would become largely dead at major studios. While I can’t comment on the 3-D itself due to it being unavailable (even Treasure of the Four Crowns managed that much), the movie itself is a turgid exercise without much drive to it.

The movie sets a bad impression from the get go as our protagonist Sam Cooper played by Steve Guttenberg is almost wholly without much personality or character depth and aside from being “there” you’d be hard pressed to describe anything about this character. The opening act drags on forever with floundering gags of foreign diplomats having foodfights or Sam undressing revealing the cliched boxer shorts with hearts on them, and Sam has no real reaction to any of these which is terrible because you need a grounded fully formed character to allow things like these to be funny. The movie relies a lot on Sam being naked as comedy due to the nature of the invisibility formula, and while nudity can be funny in film (see 10 or A Shot in the Dark for prior examples) the characters have to care they are naked and being seen because the humiliation or fear of humiliation makes those kinds of gags funny. The one segment that’s kind of inspired is a sex scene where Lisa Langlois has to mime a sex scene with an invisible Sam and while not nearly as humorous as the movie seems to think it is there is a certain level of charm to the sequence in how they capture the movements. The movie also runs way too long at just under two hours and while the movie aims to be a comic thriller in the vain of Foul Play or Silver Streak, it not only doesn’t have well defined characters, but the big reveal is based on complete nonsense and contradicts a major point regarding Sam’s position in the government.

The Man Who Wasn’t There is the kind of movie that you know for a fact can work because it’s been done so many times before from classic Universal films to throwaway Walt Disney productions, but the film was the product of being rushed out the door and you can certainly tell given how flabby and unengaging the end product is.

It’s totally “out of sight”!

Movies dealing with invisibility, is totally intriguing. I’ve seen Disney’s “Now You See Him, Now You Don’t”, H.G.Wells’ “The Invisible Man”. And I remember the TV movie, “The Invisible Woman”. In this movie, Steve Guttenberg plays a government worker who stumbled upon a small silver canister given to him by an invisible man. Before dying, the man gives information about who to meet with the canister. With the Russians and other 3rd world countries vying for the canister, Sam(Guttenberg) is over his head. Supposed to be getting married to his fiancée, Amanda(Morgan Most). In order to get away from the bad guys, he is assisted by her friend, Cindy (Lisa Langlois) who ended up being more understanding than Amanda. When Sam invests the formula, he experienced the state of being unseen. He gets his kicks at an all-girls academy by raising havoc. The funniest thing I’ve ever seen is when he accidentally spills the soda on the table, and sneak into the girls’ shower to get a towel. After being caught by Cindy, they would eventually team up. Sam and Cindy go out and try to find the man who knows about the formula. The good news is that Sam is being helped by people around him. The bad news is that Amanda, Sam’s own fiancée is part of the situation that he was clueless about. Even though this movie is not kid friendly, it’s highly entertaining. Try to make this an adult film, and it will be disappointing. Because you won’t be able to to see the action. Since this is a 3-D comedy, it’s highly entertaining in every way. It was not a let down. 3 out of 5 stars.

Not to be confused with the Billy Bob Thorton movie of the same name.

I think this movie is not bad at all. This movie is not to be confused with the Billy Bob Thorton movie of the same name. Even if Alexa Hamilton is in the movie that would be a terrific idea. At least this movie does not show an invisible woman putting on stockings like in the 1940 Invisible Woman movie. This movie also does not show an invisible woman putting on pantyhose like in the 1983 Invisible Woman. I think this movie should be out on DVD and Blue Ray in both 3-D and 2-D versions. Apparently this movie is not on DVD and Blue Ray. I think that this movie should be re released back into movie theatres in enhanced digital picture and digital sound. Overall, this movie is not bad and fair to me.