Based on the novel Les Mains D’Orlac by Maurice Renard
Screenplay by P.J. Wolfson & Joh L. Balderston
Directed by Karl Freund (The Mummy)
Plot: The odd and eccentric Dr. Gogol has become obsessed with the lovely actress Yvonne D’Orlac, even acquiring a wax figure of her for his private viewing. But when her husband, famous pianist Stephen Orlac, is seriously injured in a train wreck, he sees his chance when she comes to him for help. When he grafts the hands of a murderer on Stephen, Gogol’s plan is in motion to win the heart of Yvonne, one way or another.
Personal Thoughts: This was Peter Lorre’s first American film and what a debut it was. He had already made a name for himself in Europe with M (1931) and The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) but now Hollywood recognized his talents as well. Lorre is in fine form here as the maniacal Gogol, leering eerily over the lovely Yvonne. He has conquered science but is unlucky in love. In fact, anytime Lorre graces the screen, his facial expressions entertain on multiple levels. Sadly, Ted Healy’s comedic moments seem very out-of-place while Colin Clive did not look well at all, an obvious sign of his alcoholism. At under 70 minutes, it makes for a fun film with some great cinematography. Well worth checking out.
- A remake of the 1924 silent film, The Hands of Orlac, starring Conrad Veidt. The concept of a killer’s hands committing murder would be visited again by Lorre in The Beast with Five Fingers (1946), a film remade by Michael Caine in The Hand (1981).
- Ted Healy was partners with The Three Stooges prior to their break-up I 1934 due to Ted’s alcoholism, of which he indirectly died from just two years after this movie in 1937.
- Colin Clive also died of alcoholism in 1937 as well.
- Character actor Ian Wolfe (Star Trek, Diary of a Madman) appeared as Stephen’s father while Key Luke (Charlie Chan film series, Kung Fu) had a minor role as Dr. Wong.