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Hands of a Stranger
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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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4 out of 6 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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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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Difficult psychological thriller running off the rails into unmanageable tragedy...

Author: clanciai from Sweden
15 July 2017

This is not as bad as it looks, although it definitely is not a very uplifting film. As so often in American films, everything is lost by the lack of self control. The pianist loses his hands in a car accident, but an ingenious pioneer surgeon succeeds by a bold transplant operation in giving him a new pair of hands, which seem to work, but they work too well. They are too strong for him, and he can't manage them, and things go awry to the extreme. We never get to know whose hands they were, but they are too strong for his own good, and by his psychological liability in the deep personal crisis of having lost all his active life and everything he lived for, he can't control them as his impulses drive him over the edge. Dirk Bogarde or Farley Granger would have made a better performance of this complex character, like Hitchcock would have done much more of the thriller, much could have been made better of this very interesting psychological study into the emergence of psychopathology; as it is the realization of the drama is too superficial, as if some important scenes were missing, but it's a fascinating study in the nature of hands and what they mean to us. Whatever would you do if you lost your hands? That's the issue of this film, which indeed makes you think about it, especially if your life and work is totally dependent on the control and reliability on your hands...

The fatal mistake of Dr. Gil Harding (Paul Lukather) is not to realize that the pianist could impossibly take up piano playing again with a pair of hands not his own, which in all probability never had touched a keyboard, but the surgeon seems to imagine this to be possible in the over-optimism of his medical success. It's not a flaw of the extremely interesting case story, but important to observe this psychological mistake, and the doctor seems to realize it in the end. At least he tried all his best.

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Concert pianist wakes up from an accident with new hands

Author: msroz from United States
7 April 2017

"Hands of a Stranger" (1962) is rated about right by IMDb voters at 5.2. It is a low average movie because it tends to talkiness and several pedestrian staged conversations. But it's still a worthwhile version of this familiar story, even if not coming close to others. What it has going for it are three things. The first is a full-blooded music score that's highly emotional and melodramatic. It's by Richard LaSalle. He might just be an underrated composer because his career began in 1958 and he worked on lesser movies. Second, the actors are intense, directed to be intense, and this adds a lot of interest. Third, there's a sequence in a carnival that's really good. The direction does at a few times like that come through with interesting staging.

I'd class the film less as a horror story and much more as a late noir inasmuch as it focuses on character, the hangup of the pianist and the torn moral position of the surgeon on the case. The two main actors, Paul Lukather and James Noah went on to do a lot of roles on TV series. Sally Kellerman has a small part.

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Pretty Good Version of Orlac

Author: Rainey Dawn from United States
19 October 2016

Hands of a Stranger is nothing more than another version of "Hands of Orlac" (1924/1960). It's a pretty good version of the story.

A murderer dies and concert pianist looses his hands in a car wreck around the same time frame. A policeman is still solving the case of the murderer and the pianist's surgeon has given him the murderers hands. Somehow the hands have a mind of their own and murders people while the pianist seems to black out or block out in a way as he takes on the personality of the murderer and the murders taking place from his new hands.

it's odd but still makes for a decent horror story.


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Solid psychological drama

Author: opieandy-1 from United States
8 June 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This 1962 movie felt like a cross between a soap opera a made-for-TV movie or Perry Mason episode in its production values and musical score, but that's true of many movies of this era. Despite the apparent low budget, the movie provides intriguing if not compelling drama as we watch the world-class pianist in a classic man vs. himself struggle after the replacement of his hands following an accident.

What happened to James Noah? He has features of Elvis and Jack Lord and I thought he did a fine job in this role. His acting career, such as it was, went on hold for 20+ years after 1966. Odd.

I thought the pacing was unnecessarily slow in some places, but again, that's somewhat characteristic of the era. This film was close to a 7 for me but didn't quite have the it factor to get it there. Still, a solid film.

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