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The Beast with Five Fingers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Beast with Five Fingers
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Florey
Screenplay byCurt Siodmak
Harold Goldman
Based on"The Beast with Five Fingers"
1919 short story in The New Decameron
by William Fryer Harvey
Produced byWilliam Jacobs
StarringRobert Alda
Andrea King
Peter Lorre
Victor Francen
J. Carrol Naish
CinematographyWesley Anderson
Edited byFrank Magee
Music byMax Steiner
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • December 25, 1946 (1946-12-25)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Beast with Five Fingers is a 1946 American mystery horror film directed by Robert Florey from a screenplay by Curt Siodmak, based on the 1919 short story of the same name by W. F. Harvey. The film stars Robert Alda, Victor Francen, Andrea King, and Peter Lorre. The film's score was composed by Max Steiner.

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  • Peter Lorre in the Hand (Beast with 5 Fingers)
  • The Beast With Five Fingers by W.F. Harvey as told by Edward E. French



Francis Ingram is a noted pianist who lives in a large manor house in Italy. Ingram suffered a stroke which left his right side immobile, and he has to use a wheelchair to get around. He has retreated to the manor house for the past few years, where he lives with his nurse, Julie Holden; his secretary and astrologist Hilary Cummins; a friend, Bruce Conrad; and his sister's son, Donald Arlington. Holden and Conrad are secretly in love. Holden plans to leave Ingram's service and return to America, but wants to talk it over with Ingram first. Conrad wants her to instead leave immediately, feeling that caring for Ingram is sapping her vitality, while Cummins opposes her leaving at all, saying he will be left with no time to do his work without her to take care of Ingram's needs. After witnessing Holden and Conrad kissing, Cummins tells Ingram of the affair. Ingram, unwilling to believe it, starts to choke Cummins. Holden's intervention saves him, but Ingram orders him out of the manor.

That night, Ingram is awakened by a storm outside. He climbs into his wheelchair and, disoriented by hallucinations, falls down the stairs, breaking his neck. Commissario Ovidio Castanio of the local police investigates the death, and finds no sign of foul play.

Holden, Cummins, Conrad, Donald and his father Raymond Arlington, and Duprex, Ingram's attorney, gather for the reading of Ingram's will and testament. The Arlingtons assume they will get everything, and gloat to Cummins that they plan to have his cherished books shipped off and sold. Instead, Ingram's will grants all he owns to Holden. The Arlingtons threaten to have the will annulled by having Holden found culpable in Ingram's death, as his nurse. Duprex tells the Arlingtons that Ingram wrote an older will which gave everything to Donald, and offers to help overturn the new will in favor of the old one in exchange for a third of the estate. That night, while forging the "older will", Duprex is strangled to death. Only the assailant's left hand (which has Ingram's ring) is seen.

Castanio investigates. Everyone hears Ingram playing the piano in the main hall, but when they go to check no one is there. Castanio witnesses Donald attacked and almost choked to death by the hand with Ingram's ring. He checks Ingram's coffin in the mausoleum and finds that Ingram's left hand has been cut off; and that a hand-sized hole has been broken out of a window---from the inside! Outside, leading away from the hole is a trail of handprints. Castanio begins to believe Ingram's severed hand may have killed Duprex.

Cummins sees the disembodied hand while working in the library. He grabs the hand and locks it in a desk drawer. When he summons Conrad and Holden to show them, the hand is gone, and they assume it to have been a figment of his imagination. Donald remembers the combination and location of a safe in the house, and Castanio and his father accompany him to the room where it is located. Inside is the disembodied hand. In a panic, Donald flees the house with Conrad in pursuit. Holden realizes that Cummins is the killer, having acted to safeguard his books, but his conscience is driving him mad, making him insist that the hand did it all. She urges him to turn himself in, promising to speak on his behalf. He instead tries to kill her to keep her from telling anyone else. To stay his hand, she claims to believe the hand is responsible, and begs Cummins to protect her from it. Completely convinced by his delusion, Cummins seizes the hand and throws it in the fire, but the burning hand crawls out and chokes him, fading out of existence after he collapses.

Castanio and Conrad discover a hidden record player with a recording of Ingram's piano playing which Cummins remotely triggered from his desk. Castanio theorizes that Cummins cut off the hand, which he kept in his desk or the safe whenever not using it in an attack.



The film was Warner Bros.' only foray into the horror genre in the 1940s and was Peter Lorre's last film with the studio.[citation needed]

Graham Baker was reported as working on a script for Warner Bros in 1945.[1] Robert Florey was assigned to direct with Andrea King and Paul Henreid to star.[2] The screenwriter Curt Siodmak had originally written the film for Henreid, who turned it down.[3] Robert Alda was cast instead.[citation needed]

Filming started November 27, 1945.[4] The piece much played throughout the film is a slightly modified version of Brahms' transcription for left hand of the chaconne from Johann Sebastian Bach's Violin Partita in D minor, performed by Warner Bros. pianist Victor Aller. His hand is shown playing the piano and throughout the movie.[citation needed]


Home media

The film was released on Laser Disc by MGM/UA Home Video on March 16, 1999 and released on DVD by Warner Brothers on October 1, 2013.[5]

Shown on the MeTV show Svengoolie' on March 26, 2022.


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 89% based on 18 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 6.6/10.[6] Author and film critic Leonard Maltin awarded the film two and a half out of a possible four stars, calling it "[an] Intriguing, if not entirely successful mood piece".[7] Bob Mastrangelo from Allmovie gave the film a positive review, calling it "effectively eerie", and praised the film's special effects.[8]

See also


  1. ^ "NEWS OF THE SCREEN: Bogart and Stanwyck Will Star in 'Fountainhead'-- 'Moscow Skies' Due at the Stanley Today". New York Times. Jan 20, 1945. p. 16.
  2. ^ "WARNERS RESUME WITH HAYS OFFICE: Film Company Announces Its Return to Fold--Two New Attractions Due Today Of Local Origin". New York Times. Nov 7, 1945. p. 20.
  3. ^ p.262 "Curt Siodmak Interview" by Patrick McGilligan, Backstory 2: Interviews with Screenwriters of the 1940s and 1950s, University of California Press
  4. ^ "JOHN FORD SIGNED TO DIRECT FOR FOX: Will Return to Studio for 'My Darling Clementine'--Five Films Arrive This Week Of Local Origin". New York Times. Nov 26, 1945. p. 18.
  5. ^ "The Beast with Five Fingers (1946) – Robert Florey". AllMovie. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  6. ^ "The Beast With Five Fingers (1946) – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  7. ^ Leonard Maltin (2015). Classic Movie Guide: From the Silent Era Through 1965. Penguin Publishing Group. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-14-751682-4.
  8. ^ Mastrangelo, Bob. "The Beast with Five Fingers (1946) – Robert Florey". Bob Mastrangelo. Retrieved 9 October 2017.

External links

This page was last edited on 26 June 2024, at 19:39
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