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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Hands of a Stranger

Author: Scarecrow-88 from United States
19 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A talented pianist, Vernon Paris(James Stapleton)has played the greatest concert of his life with a future as bright as could possibly be..until his hands are mangled and broken after his taxi driver, whose attention was diverted, crashes. A dedicated and intensely driven surgeon, Dr. Gil Harding(Paul Lukather), who pushes himself too hard in saving every life under his care regardless of the circumstances, is able to successfully transplant a mysterious murdered man's hands onto Vernon whose own were damaged beyond repair. Awakening to the horror that he no longer possessed the delicate, skilled hands that so wonderfully played such soaring melodies, Vernon rejects the new ones grafted to him. Psychologically traumatized, Vernon begins to violently react towards those he condemns for the new hands that aren't able to adjust to the piano keys that once brought beauty to the world. This includes those who contributed to the surgery and his tragic fate..Gil's doctors and the son of the taxi driver who caused the crash(..also Vernon's glamorous society gal who left him for another after discovering his accident).

Overly dramatic, talky, with loud, pounding score attempting to increase the level of weight regarding the characters and story can sometimes make the presentation a bit difficult, but I appreciated the ambitious nature behind the filmmakers in telling a compelling tale about how tragedy effects the lives of many when talent is taken from someone who has prepared his whole life for success. Director Newt Arnold, who also wrote the intelligent and thought-provoking screenplay, uses his camera to emphasize the importance of the hands, their movements and abilities, even focusing on the psychological impact of losing your own and being stuck with those alien to you. I like how Arnold differentiates the changes in the hands, once gentle, bringing only beauty, then strong and powerful creating only death. Arnold establishes that anything(..anyone)Vernon touches, he destroys. The performances are pretty intense and melodramatic, but the situation within the story warrants such heated emotions and debates. Still, one major problem that this film suffers from, I felt, is that Vernon is hard to sympathize with because he seems quite egotistical, arrogant, and the type yearning for the spotlight and fame..he has worked hard for this glory, but it's hard to really embrace him because he's obsessed with beauty to the point that it's the only thing of importance. When this is taken away from him, Vernon immediately sours, pointing fingers at the very ones who, at the very least, gave him new hands. I thought Lukather was very good as the determined surgeon, with a commanding presence, providing his character with an authority. Laurence Haddon is Lt. Syms, who hounds Gil for answers regarding the missing hands from the dead, unidentified man, patient, but steadily getting restless and assertive when the victims start adding up. Harvey, as Vernon's concerned sister, Dina(..and Gil's love interest), can be a bit overwhelming in her histrionics(..her overheated exchange with Gil over Vernon's unfortunate problem is almost cringe-worthy), but when settled/toned down, she isn't too bad. Some impressive photography with Arnold capturing faces/images quite well for extra impact(..the funhouse mirror gag is quite a powerful moment truly displaying the torment Vernon is facing in a visual way).

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:


Author: NNancy1964 from Omaha, NE
15 March 2003

I saw this on the Saturday night Creature Feature, which usually plays the WORST kind of dreck... I was pleasantly surprised that this film was as good as it was. Being from a family of musicians, and a flutist myself, I understood all too well the care that Vernon took of his hands, and the devastation he must have felt. The premise of the film wasn't really anything new, but there were enough twists to keep it interesting... :-)

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Pretty fun and intriguing affair

Author: GL84 from Los Angeles, Ca
3 September 2012

After losing his hands in a tragic accident, a gifted pianist finds that the surgically replaced hands he now has take a murderous life of their own and must try to stop them from acting out the deadly urges.

This here turned out to be pretty much a fun and enjoyable effort. A lot of what makes this one so much fun is brought along by the film's central point of a lot more focus on the hands and how they're getting comfortable following the accident. Since they're far more crucial to the film's plot rather than any other side-quality, the fact that this is able to put more focus on that through the long arguing done before and after the actual surgery as well as the procedures afterward testing how they've come along since. It's all nicely handled here until it turns over it's murderous qualities in the second half. This is an enjoyable affair as this gives us plenty of good scenes including the meeting with his girlfriend in her apartment and the young son of his driver when he stops in to meet with him. The finale here is also fun where it has more creepy qualities than expected, starting with the carnival altercations of people using their hands that eat at him before his playing the game and resulting freak-out in the area, and the stalking of his girlfriend in the theater which includes a fine brawl mixed in here. These here are all enough to make this one enjoyable enough to hold out nicely over the few small flaws here. The biggest problem here is the film's uneven pacing where this one is pretty front- loaded with the bland talking scenes and saves the action for the end. While there's still some focus on the surgeon and his radical experiment here, the fact that this comes in the form of the over-the-top speeches and throwing around how unethical the action procedure is that there's really no time to get this one going on with the hands' ineffectual nature by showing it in action. A lot of that is how this one seems to spiral between being a serious horror effort and more campy material rather than bringing on any kind of display of powers during the examination scenes makes this one lose some steam along the way. As well, there's the rather underwhelming finale does it no favors either with a simple, matter-of-factly occurrence that takes place off-screen for the most part which really causes this to lower the impact of the action. Otherwise, this one was quite entertaining.

Today's Rating-PG: Violence

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Lackluster version of the "hands" that had a mind of their own...

Author: Neil Doyle from U.S.A.
2 September 2012

A talky script and some overacting in key scenes doesn't help put the viewer in the right frame of mind to enjoy this oft told story of hands that are sewn onto a pianist after he loses use of his hands in an accident.

Nobody in the cast has any "name" value and I see that in many of these reviews people are confusing the leading male characters by crediting the wrong names of the actors.

For clarification, it's James Stapleton who plays the pianist with a sensitive but expressionless face. His looks are reminiscent of Hurd Hatfield's in "The Picture of Dorian Gray" who also kept a mask-like facial expression. The doctor is played with slightly more animation by Paul Lukather and has a more sympathetic role. The victimized Stapleton resents the doctor's surgery to the extent that he becomes arrogant and spiteful enough to emerge a killer.

Some of the B&W photography is in the film noir category but everyone is let down by an uninspired script and less than polished direction.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Unremarkable and unmemorable but an okay time killer

Author: dbborroughs from Glen Cove, New York
10 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hands of Orlac brought up to date, well at least as far as 1962. The story is of a pianist who loses his hands in a car accident and has those of a killer sewn on to his arms. Of course it all goes wrong as the pianist begins to think that the hands have a mind of their own.

You know the drill. Odds are you've been here before. The idea of an alien body part taking over the body of the receiver is a well worn story that runs rampant through horror and science fiction pulp tales. It would be fool hardy to try and compare this to the countless variations so I won't, I'll just deal with the Orlac variations. Here the story is done reasonably well. certainly this isn't the best version of the tale, that prize would probably go to Mad Love starring Peter Lorre. Certainly Mad Love has something memorable to it while Hands of a Strangers has very little to remember. I've seen the film several times now, the last time last night, and in all honesty other than the basic premise I remember almost nothing. It is an okay time killer, I had it on while going to bed, but its not really something I'd ever search out (I had it in the collection and popped it in because I hadn't seen it in a while). If you run across it its worth a shot, but beyond that I can't say much.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Talk to the Hands cause the face is asleep!

Author: Coventry from the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls
18 December 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Hands of a Stranger" is a version of the same story told in Peter Lorre's 1930's classic "Mad Love" (and also in "The Hands of Orlac, but I haven't seen that one yet), only the visual flair and suspenseful atmosphere of that film have been removed here and replaced with nothing but … melodramatic speeches! Every character in this film, whether he or she plays a leading part or just a supportive one, simply looooooooooooves to speech. Even the simplest "yes" or "no" questions are answered with incredibly overlong, tedious, irritating and besides-the-point nagging and driveling. Needless to say this badly affects the amusement factor as well as the pacing, and "Hands of the Stranger" indeed quickly became one of the dullest & laughably pretentious thrillers I had the displeasure of watching recently. The story opens with a random guy getting shot by anonymous men from a driving car. The identity of this man, the reasons why he must die and – equally important – who killed him are all questions that unprofessionally remain open throughout the entire movie. All we learn about him is that he has strong and beautiful hands. Whenever someone informs about his identity or background, the standard response is that the investigation isn't finished yet. Nevertheless, the span of the story is approximately 4 to 5 months, so imagine how slow the CSI departments worked back in the 1960's. Anyway, the hands of the mysteriously assassinated stranger's hands are amputated and sewn on to the arms of an acclaimed pianist who lost his in a terrible car accident. Define irony; the guy walks out of an accident without a single scratch on his body yet his hands are entirely mangled and unrecognizable. He, Vernon Paris, subsequently has to learn to accept his new hands but instead of that the force him to kill. At least that's the explanation given in the film, but I'm convinced the script exclusively suggest that his mind went berserk. "Hands of a Stranger" is a nearly unendurably stupid film with very few aspects that are worth mentioning. Personally, I counted two remotely interesting sequences, namely one when Paris confronts the cab driver responsible for the accident and another one set at a carnival. The rest of the film is miserably boring, with endless lame dialogs, implausible characters (the Doctor looks like a rock star and the cop acts like a stand-up comedian), a total shortage of horrific moments, hideous photography, uninspired directing and just plain retarded plot twists.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Daft but entertaining

Author: Andy McGregor ( from United Kingdom
21 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

All too familiar old story : guy's hands have made him a successful pianist, guy is in a car-crash, guy wakes up to discover he has lost his hands, guy loses his selfish girlfriend, op doc transplants someone else's hands (a stranger's perhaps?), guy's sister falls for the op doc, guy discovers they were the hands of a murderer, guy loses the ability to play piano, guy resents op doc, guy's sister also resents op doc, guy's sister breaks up with op doc, guy goes a bit mad, guy kills a few folk himself, guy tries to kill op doc in revenge, guy taken out in a meaningless and futile ending, we all feel sorry for guy's sister.

Even though this movie is slow and very dialogue heavy, I find it pretty entertaining. Rather than terrible performances or "over-acting" as someone put it, I find the animated acting styles suit the mood and tone of the movie. There are few action sequences so I feel the cast compensate for this to some degree. The camera work, directing and lighting deserve honourable plaudits here; any sound problems I'm fairly forgiving with.

The premise and plot of the movie may be pretty daft but it is delivered with enough earnestness to make this halfway convincing. Overall - pretty watchable time killer.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Not As Good As Earlier Versions

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
3 September 2012

Hands of a Stranger (1962)

** (out of 4)

Low-budget remake of THE HANDS OF ORLAC from the one and only Allied Artists. As in the numerous earlier versions, a concert pianist (James Stapleton) loses his hands in a car wreck so a doctor (Paul Lukather) gives him the hands of someone else. Soon the pianist begins to lose his mind and goes around killing several people. Is it the new hands or is something else going on? HANDS OF A STRANGER really doesn't improve on any of the earlier versions of this story and in the end the film is just way too talky and doesn't feature enough energy or excitement. For a horror film from 1962 I was a little surprised to see how much it was lacking in regards to the horror elements. The death scenes are all rather tame and there were a few times where you couldn't even tell that he killed the people until later in the film when it was mentioned that they were dead. The biggest problem, however, is the fact that there's just way too much talking going on and it just makes the film drag along to a point where you just grow tired of everything going on. The performances are also all over the place but I thought Lukather and Stapleton were good in their parts. The one thing I did like is how the film never really made it clear if the hands were doing the killing or if it was the actual person just mentally unstable from not being a concert pianist anymore. Still, with such better films out there it's hard to recommend this to anyone other than those who want to see every version.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Doctor's Hubris

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
25 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This low budget Allied Artists thriller boasts some very unique camera work and a nice and edgy performance as a Van Cliburn like concert pianist whose hands become horribly mangled in a car crash by Paul Lukather.

The film opens with someone killing and then being killed and it's those hands that are grafted on to Lukather when he's brought into the hospital. James Stapleton plays the surgeon whose hubris leads him to using Lukather as an experimental guinea pig for a new surgical transplant technique.

Who knows if eventually it might have worked, but imagine asking Van Cliburn to put his career on hold around this time for several years. Lukather is not that patient and several fatalities result because of that, most tragically the death of child prodigy Barry Gordon.

Though the film holds up pretty well for such a low budget product with limited production values in 1962 no one would have mistaken the lead for anyone else other than Van Cliburn. That dimension is lost to today's generation.

Doesn't mean they can't enjoy a good low budget shocker.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Too bad they weren't the hands of a Chiropractor!

Author: michaeldukey2000 from United States
24 July 2007

I remember seeing this late at night in the mid sixties on Chiller theater and it really creeped me out so I was anxious to check it out again when it showed up at the public domain bargain bin section. It doesn't really hold up that well but I can see a why it stuck in my mind in a few well shot and staged scenes.

Of the four filmed versions of The Hands Of Orlac (Four and a half if you count sections of Oliver Stones flop The Hand) this one comes in at dead last. It's not awful but it doesn't hold a candle to in inventiveness and weirdness of the Peter Lorre Version Mad Love and it doesn't have the silliness and fast pace of the Mel Ferrer ,Christopher Lee Version The Hands Of Orlac. As noted by others this doesn't credit orlac at all . Although there are marked difference between all of the versions it doesn't take a genius to figure where the story came from even though it ends differently.

I liked the opening and the scenes at the carnival and of course nurse Irish McCalla (Sheena, Queen Of The Jungle)isn't hard to look at. Juvenile actor Barry Gordon is sympathetic without being annoying like many child actors and Paul Lukather (who still works) has enough bravado to carry him through the long winded and stilted episodes of prose.

If you're a horror completist and don't expect much or if you're into B-movie noir you might give this a glance otherwise stick to the Karl Freund version Mad Love. You can't beat Peter Lorre on a tirade anyway.

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