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Black Hand (1950)

Passed  -  Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller  -  12 March 1950 (USA)
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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 »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
J. Carrol Naish ...
Teresa Celli ...
Isabella Gomboli
Caesar Xavier Serpi
Frank Puglia ...
Carlo Sabballera
Barry Kelley ...
Police Capt. Thompson
Mario Siletti ...
Benny Danetta / Nino
Carl Milletaire ...
George Allani / Tomasino
Peter Brocco ...
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  »

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User Reviews

Pay or Die
23 September 2005 | by (brooklyn NY) – See all my reviews

**SPOILERS** Not to be confused with the ultra-nationalistic and deadly Serbian Black Hand of the same period, the early 1900's, the "Mano Nera", or "Black Hand" in Italian. The hoods operated in the heavily Italian immigrant neighborhoods in New York City were made up from of gang of ruthless thugs from the old country who used intimidation kidnapping and murder to extort the local population by paying them protection money.

Roberto Columbo,Peter Brocco, had just about had it from the shake-downs he was subjected to and goes, secretly, to see a local police official to give evidence against the Black Hand. Unknown to Roberto the police, or who he thought are the police, are in together with the Black Hand and instead of being protected by them he ends up dead with a stiletto in his back. Eight years later Roberto's son Johnny, Gene Kelly,now 22 is back from Italy, after he and his mother fled for their lives to escape the Black Hand,seeking revenge for his fathers murder.

Early organized crime Hollywood movie that actually uses the word "Mafia" in it long before it became commonplace in the American public's vocabulary. In fact the far more famous and highly acclaimed Academy Award winning movie "The Godfather", which was released some 22 years later in 1972, doesn't mention the word even once.

Falling in love with his childhood sweetheart Isbellla Gomboli, Teresa Celli, Johnny realizes that he'll put her and her young eight year old brother Rudi, Jimmy Ragano, lives in jeopardy by trying to use violence against the shake-down artists and kidnappers of the Black Hand. With the help of an old family friend police inspector Louis Lorelli, J. Carrol Naish, Johnny opts to use the criminal Justice system to put the thugs behind bars.

Getting nowhere with no one willing to testify against them and even getting worked over by the Black Hand for trying to put them out of business, and behind bars, Johnny comes up with a legal technicality that's air tight. An active criminal record, or rap sheet, of the gang members dating back to their native Italy. The Italian rap sheet would have the hoods deported back home as undesirable aliens by lying about their past convictions! It would b enough to put the Black Hand members, who all have Italian criminal records, on a boat back to Italy and a long stretch in an Italian prison.

Taking a long vacation from the New York Police Department Inspector Lorelli goes to Italy to amass information on the New York based Black Hand members and mail it back, to a secret post office box, to Johhny who's now a lawyer for the NYC Justice Department but he's murdered by local mobsters. Before he was killed Lorelli did put the important envelope in a mailbox.

It's now up to Johnny to get the information that the late Inspector Lorelli sent him to the courts but the Black Hand struck first by kidnapping Isbella's young brother Rudi and holding him hostage until Johnny reveals where the post office box is and gives them the key to open it. Johnny now has to choose between Rudi's life and the end of the dreaded Black Hand who murdered his father.

Slam bang final with Johnny Columbo blasting his way out of the Black Hand hideout, that he was held prisoner in, and then having it out with the Black Hand's Mr. Big himself Caesar Xavier Serpi, Marc Lawrence, as he tries to keep Serpi from destroying Inspt. Lorelli's Italian police criminal records on him and his fellow hoods. "Black Hand" is much better then most crime movies made at that time that has to do with criminal organizations like the Mafia by not having the usual formalized Hollywood plot-line. The film doesn't have everything and everyone in it being either all good or all bad but a little, or a lot, bit of both.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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