17 user 10 critic

Black Hand (1950)

Passed | | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller | 12 March 1950 (USA)
Now grown-up, Johnny Columbo returns to New York from Italy having sworn a vendetta against the Black Hand who killed his father years earlier. Becoming romantically involved with a girl ... See full summary »



(screen play), (from a story by)
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A young doctor falls in love with a disturbed young woman, becomes involved in the death of her husband, and has to flee with her to the Mexican border.

Director: John Farrow
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Claude Rains, Faith Domergue
Macao (1952)
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Nick Cochran, an American in exile in Macao, has a chance to restore his name by helping capture an international crime lord. Undercover, can he mislead the bad guys and still woo the handsome singer/petty crook, Julie Benson?

Directors: Josef von Sternberg, Nicholas Ray
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, William Bendix
Raw Deal (1948)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Joe Sullivan has taken the rap for Rick who double-crosses him with a flawed escape plan and other means intended to get rid of him.

Director: Anthony Mann
Stars: Dennis O'Keefe, Claire Trevor, Marsha Hunt
Caged (1950)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A naive nineteen year old widow becomes coarsened and cynical when she is sent to a woman's prison and is exposed to hardened criminals and sadistic guards.

Director: John Cromwell
Stars: Eleanor Parker, Agnes Moorehead, Ellen Corby
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Through a fluke circumstance a ruthless woman stumbles across a suitcase filled with $60,000, and she is determined to hold onto it even it if means murder.

Director: Byron Haskin
Stars: Lizabeth Scott, Don DeFore, Dan Duryea
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

There is a problem with foreign nationals using Cuba as a convenient jumping off point for illegal entry into the United States. So U.S. Immigration Service Agent Peter Karczag (John Hodiak... See full summary »

Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Stars: Hedy Lamarr, John Hodiak, James Craig
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A former boxer turned cab driver has to hide from the police when his badgering wife is murdered by the jewel thief she was having an affair with.

Director: Phil Karlson
Stars: John Payne, Evelyn Keyes, Brad Dexter
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An ex-con trying to go straight is framed for a million dollar armored car robbery and must go to Mexico in order to unmask the real culprits.

Director: Phil Karlson
Stars: John Payne, Coleen Gray, Preston Foster
Crime | Film-Noir | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A novelist aided by his future father-in-law conspires to frame himself in the murder of a stripper as part of an effort to ban capital punishment.

Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Dana Andrews, Joan Fontaine, Sidney Blackmer
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A woman kills her beautiful sister in a rage after finding out she has an affair with her fiancé, and later plans on killing the little girl who may have witnessed the murder.

Director: Pat Jackson
Stars: Ann Sothern, Zachary Scott, Gigi Perreau
Party Girl (1958)
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Lawyer Thomas Farrell is a defender of crooks. Vicki Gayle encourages him improve his reputation, but mob king Rico Angelo insists otherwise.

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Robert Taylor, Cyd Charisse, Lee J. Cobb
Crime | Film-Noir | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

An obsessed cop tracks an elusive serial killer who strangles his victims on rainy nights.

Director: Richard Fleischer
Stars: William Lundigan, Dorothy Patrick, Jeff Corey


Cast overview, first billed only:
Louis Lorelli
Isabella Gomboli
Caesar Xavier Serpi
Carlo Sabballera
Barry Kelley ...
Police Capt. Thompson
Mario Siletti ...
Benny Danetta / Nino
Carl Milletaire ...
George Allani / Tomasino
Roberto Columbo
Eleonora von Mendelssohn ...
Maria Columbo (as Eleonora Mendelssohn)
Grazia Narciso ...
Mrs. Danetta
Maurice Samuels ...
Burk Symon ...
Mrs. Sabballera


Now grown-up, Johnny Columbo returns to New York from Italy having sworn a vendetta against the Black Hand who killed his father years earlier. Becoming romantically involved with a girl from school and meeting up with an honest cop also fighting the gangs, Columbo starts to wonder if there may be legal ways to defeat them. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 March 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Knife  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This was originally set up as a Robert Taylor vehicle. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

23 August 2002 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

It doesn't make a good impression. It's in black and white, involves Gene Kelly in a strictly dramatic role, has low production values, and is rarely shown and never publicized. All the trappings of a B feature when movie theaters still showed double bills.

Yet it's interesting, for three main reasons. One is that the story itself simply isn't too bad. Unlike many of the Godfather-type epics, Italian immigrant life isn't romanticized. The settings are grungy. Families don't live in secluded splendor. If the plot isn't nearly as nuanced as more modern stories on the subject, neither does it falsify the nature of criminal groups. There are clearly good guys here, and clearly bad guys, and a couple of guys squeezed in the middle.

Two questions are raised that have little to do with the Black Hand. Few of the principal actors are Italian. Does it matter? Kelly, curly haired and wearing dark make up, looks the part, although he sounds like a Mid-Westerner rather than an Italian immigrant to New York. (He pronounces his Italian correctly, though.) J. Carrol Naish, an Irishman from New York, is also made to look swarthy and gives what is for him a modulated performance. The man specialized in ethnic universality. He played Arabs, Asiatic Indians, lots of Italians, and God know what else, except an Irishman. Like Lawrence Olivier, he had only one accent that seemed to fit all of his parts. Some years ago, Vanessa Redgrave, a virulent pro-Palestinian, played a Jewish violinist in a pretty decent TV movie -- "Playing for Time," I think was the title -- about survival in Theresenstadt. Whew! What a brouhaha! Imagine an anti-Zionist playing a Jew in a concentration camp! Before that, Freddie Prinz came in for a blistering because he played a Mexicano in "Chico and the Man," a TV series, and Prinz was half Hungarian and half Puerto Rican. Again, it seems to matter, but should it? Doesn't the essence of acting involve playing the part of someone else? Unless the portrayal is so far off the mark that it works only as parody, why should it matter to us? Reduced to the absurd, the argument would have us never playing anyone other than ourselves. The same logic would have us object to every performance on screen or stage, because the actors are pretending to be something that -- genetically and culturally -- they are not.

The second question, and the third thing about the movie that I found impressive, had to do with the sets. The production is studio bound. Large scale location shooting was only beginning in 1949. The sets are clearly artificial. But, although not as convincing as on-location shooting, the production is at least as suggestive, seeming a bit stylized and stylized in the right direction. Turn-of-the-century New York City poverty has rarely been so well captured. The head of the local Black Hand is arrested while taking a bath. He is in his cellar. (It's a definite "cellar," not a "basement"!) There is a single naked overhead light. The cellar walls seem made of large bricks hastily thrown together. The man is naked in a bathtub that has no running water. (He undoubtedly filled it with water from kettles warmed on the top of a coal burning range in the upstairs kitchen.) A goat stands placidly next to the tub, ignoring the intrusion of the cops. Now THAT is production design. Studio sets can be taken even further and still be effective. A scene in "Mystery of the Wax Museum" or "Horrors of same" has Phyllis Kirk being chased through turn-of-the-century New York streets by a deformed and murderous madman. The streets through which she runs and he shuffles bear the same resemblance to real streets that a schematic diagram does to the inside of a TV set. The apartment fronts look made of thin plywood. The windows -- all equally lighted with bland yellow -- are of identical size and all have their shades drawn, like glowing but blank and impenetrable eyes, suggesting there is no succor for the heroine behind any of them, only thin buttresses propping up the false fronts and a couple of lights strung by the grip. And of course, there are no pedestrians, there is no garbage in the gutters or the streets, let alone garbage cans, no vehicles, no nothing except those surrealistically empty streets. "The Black Hand" doesn't go this far, but is an effective suspension of realism and stylization. The scenes in "Naples" are almost overboard. The night-time streets of Italy are well enough done but Naish eats in a Neapolitan restaurant with a view overlooking a patently false bay. It's the kind of "staged authenticity" that the sociologist Dean MacCannell described. All that was needed, besides that blow up, would be a couple of fish nets and phony salamis and provolones hanging from the walls.

There are three kinds of phoniness here: (1) the plot that pits good against evil; (2) the substitution of non-Italian actors for Italian characters; and (3) the use of studio sound stages as substitutes for real locations. None of it matters. It's not a bad flick. Not very good -- no one could argue that -- but simply not bad. I enjoyed it anyway. I mean, in a way, its phoniness is emblematic of our own realities. Are you really everything you claim to be?

7 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Sabballera court scene skutah
is this ever shown on TCM? danielj_old999
Is this on DVD? delmoreatom
Discuss Black Hand (1950) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: