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By Whose Hand? (1932)

Passed  -  Mystery  -  6 July 1932 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 62 users  
Reviews: 8 user

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Complete credited cast:
Ben Lyon ...
Barbara Weeks ...
Kenneth Thomson ...
Ethel Kenyon ...
William V. Mong ...
Dolores Ray ...
Bride (as Dolores Rey)
Killer Delmar
Tom Dugan ...
Chick Lewis


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Release Date:

6 July 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Expresso 12  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(TCM print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


[first lines]
Train Engineer: [in the cab of the train, looking at his pocket watch] Twelve o'clock. Four hours ago we were in Los Angeles. Ah, nothing ever happens on this trip.
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User Reviews

Pullman 12
14 January 2007 | by (Van Buren, Arkansas) – See all my reviews

This often neglected programmer is filled with suspense and mayhem aboard a fast-moving train and well worth a watch, even though the acting is often overwrought, a holdover from the silent film days when histrionics were sometimes necessary to compensate for the lack of sound. Being an early sound production, the dialog too is often stilted. But the crisp photography, at times reminding the viewer of a Hitchcock picture, and apt direction more than make up for the movie's shortcomings. Sometimes as exciting as today's action hits, especially during the runaway train sequence at the end, "By Whose Hand?" proves a winner all the way.

Though Ben Lyon was a fine actor, he did much better as a second lead. He never had the charisma nor the looks to play top banana as he does in this film. The drunk played by Tom Dugan was probably a laugh riot to audiences in 1932 but by today's standards becomes a bit grating after a few minutes. Intended mainly for comic relief, the part should have been whittled down considerably. Otherwise, the casting is first rate with standout performances by the vivacious Barbara Weeks, the always delightful Dwight Frye, William V. Mong as a crotchety old man, and the versatile Nat Pendleton. The racial stereotyping that was rampant in Hollywood at the time is omnipresent, but if the viewer keeps an open mind this aspect is also tolerable.

The plot involves a hotshot reporter, Jimmy (Lyon), who takes a train ride to scoop a story on Chick Lewis (Frye), the man who plea-bargained with the police and is therefore the target of an escaped killer, Delmar(Pendleton), who stabs his victims. And there are two steak knives missing from the kitchen! Jimmy accidentally meets Alice (Weeks) and falls madly in love with her (who wouldn't!). All the while the locomotive speeds full throttle toward San Francisco.

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