“In my mind, there is no doubt the hand is walking around.”
When a one-handed pianist (Victor Francen) dies, his loyal secretary (Peter Lorre) is distressed to learn that he’s been left out of his will, and soon comes to believe that Francen’s disembodied hand is stalking him.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Disembodied Parts
- Peter Lorre Films
Robert Florey directed dozens of forgettable B-level flicks throughout his career (see his profile at IMDb), yet a small handful of his titles remain worth a look — most notably Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932), The Face Behind the Mask (1941) (with Peter Lorre), and this later Lorre vehicle, perhaps best known for being the first “disembodied hand” flick to emerge from Hollywood. Unfortunately, the screenplay for … Beast (scripted in part by Curt Siodmak) is poorly paced and a bit of a mess, shifting aimlessly between various characters throughout the first half; but once it finally settles on Lorre — the most interesting character by far — the horror vibes really start to fly, as truly impressive special effects — coupled with atmospheric cinematography and excellent use of creepy piano music — begin to dominate the proceedings.
As noted in Time Out’s capsule review, “The fudged ending imposed by the studio deflates much of the mystery” — but the half-hour or so that comes before makes The Beast With Five Fingers a once-must classic of the genre.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Peter Lorre as Hilary Cummins
- Fine direction by Robert Florey
- Exciting, remarkably impressive special effects
- Atmospheric cinematography
- Powerful use of classical music
Yes, as a flawed but memorable horror classic.