Invisible Ghost (1941), starring Bela Lugosi and directed by Joseph H. Lewis, was the first of the nine films that Lugosi appeared for Sam Katzman at Monogram Pictures. Joseph H. Lewis was a B-movie film director whose style is now appreciated by Auteur theory-espousing film critics in the years following his retirement in 1966. Auteur theory holds that a director's film reflects the director's personal creative vision.
The film also stars:
Polly Ann Young, who is best known for her role as John Wayne's leading lady in The Man From Utah (1934). The Invisible Ghost (1941) was her last film. She had also appeared with Lugosi in Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) and in White Zombie (1932);
Clarence Muse an actor, screenwriter, director, composer, and lawyer. He was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1973. Muse was the first African American to "star" in a film. He appeared in Hearts in Dixie (1929) the first all African - American movie. He was also known for appearing in Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Car Wash (1976) and The Black Stallion (1979);
John McGuire who appeared in Steamboat Round the Bend (1935), The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936) and Stranger on the Third Floor (1940);
Ottola Nesmith who appeared in over 115 films and television shows between 1913 and 1969 and was a horror show hostess during the 1950’s.
This 1941 Poverty Row horror movie revolves around a town's leading citizen, played by Bela Lugosi, who becomes a homicidal maniac after his wife is involved in a car accident that has left her brain damaged. She is secretly kept in the basement by Kessler's gardener. Kessler commits a string of murders while under a trance brought on by his wife whom he believes to be dead. When an innocent man is executed for a murder done by Kessler in his house, the man’s twin brother visits and tries to find the truth behind the murder. It is soon learned that Kessler is the real killer.
According to the director Joseph H. Lewis Invisible Ghost (1941) was inspired from real events surrounding the case of Walter Krivitsky. Krivitsky was a Soviet intelligence officer who revealed plans for the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact before defecting weeks before the outbreak of World War II. On February 10, 1941, at 9:30 a.m. Krivitsky was found dead in the Bellevue Hotel in Washington, DC, with three suicide notes by the bed. Police found a single bullet wound to the right temple from a .38-caliber revolver in Krivitsky's right hand. According to several sources he was murdered by Soviet intelligence, but the official investigation concluded that Krivitsky had committed suicide. However the investigation was unaware that the NKVD, a law enforcement agency of the Soviet Union with ties to Soviet secret police, had conducted an extensive manhunt for Krivitsky. According to many sources Krivitsky’s suicide was staged and he was actually murdered by Soviet intelligence.
Invisible Ghost (1941) and was released on April 25, 1941 with the runtime of 64 minutes to very mixed reviews. Although Invisible Ghost (1941) was technically superior to Lugosi’s next eight monogram films, this film is hindered by its feeble plot and weak screenplay.