The Hand (1960)

THE HAND (1960)
Article #1525 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-18-2005
Posting Date: 10-15-2005
Directed by Henry Cass
Featuring Derek Bond, Ronald Leigh-Hunt, Reed De Rouen

When a drunkard is picked up in the street with his right hand amputated and carrying a wad of cash, the police investigate his story that he was paid to have it amputated.

Fantastic content: I would say that this movie is rather marginal. The horror content is mostly due to the grisliness of the concept of hand amputations.

This movie actually starts out with a bang; there’s a dramatic sequence in a prisoner of war camp, and then the story jumps to the rather intriguing mystery as described above. Unfortunately, it’s all downhill from there; the story becomes increasingly muddled and confusing, and it ends with an obvious and contrived ironic twist. Perhaps the worst problem, though, is that when you hold the story up to the light, it seems lame and poorly developed, and you end up wondering if you wasted your time.

Nevertheless, I find myself reluctant to abandon the story altogether. Though the story doesn’t work in this context, there are some hints of a more complex story underlying it all, enough so that I began to feel that it isn’t so much a bad story as a good story very badly told. If I had written that underlying story, I would have jettisoned the detective plot and concentrated on a more straightforward and character-driven version of it, because this story could only work if the characters are carefully developed (something this movie fails to do).

Even if I had been required to keep it a mystery, I would make one major change; I would move the opening prisoner-of-war sequence at the beginning to the accompanying flashback at the end of the movie. The reason for this is that it reveals too much; the mystery would have been a lot more engrossing had we not already known how certain characters lost their hands. Quite frankly, the sequence is too strong for this movie; you keep waiting to get back to it and the mystery plot starts to become a coy annoyance. At any rate, this is all speculation. In it’s present form, the movie falls flat.

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