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The Hands of Orlac (1924)

Orlacs Hände (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Horror, Mystery | 4 June 1928 (USA)
A world-famous pianist loses both hands in an accident. When new hands are grafted on, he doesn't know they once belonged to a murderer.


Robert Wiene


Louis Nerz, Maurice Renard (novel)




Cast overview:
Conrad Veidt ... Paul Orlac (as Veidt)
Alexandra Sorina Alexandra Sorina ... Yvonne Orlac (as Sorina)
Fritz Strassny Fritz Strassny ... Der alle Orlac (as Strassny)
Paul Askonas Paul Askonas ... Der Diener (as Askonas)
Carmen Cartellieri Carmen Cartellieri ... Regine (as Cartellieri)
Hans Homma Hans Homma ... Dr. Serral (as Homma)
Fritz Kortner ... Nera (as Kortner)


Orlac is a world famous pianist. One day he is badly hurt in a big train wreck. He is in danger of losing both his hands so his wife begs the doctors to save them. They eventually manage to transplant his hands with those of another deceased person. After his recovery Orlac discovers that there is something seriously wrong with his new pair of hands -- it is as if they had a will of their own. But Orlac doesn't know that they actually belonged to a dangerous murderer. Written by Aljaz Ciber, Slovenia

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Censorship boards in Germany and Austria forbade teenagers from seeing the film despite no mention of adult-only elements in their review of the film. See more »


When Orlac reads a newspaper, the headlines are in German but the body in French. See more »

Crazy Credits

In the opening credits, all cast members are billed by their last names only. See more »


Edited into Histoire(s) du cinéma: Fatale beauté (1994) See more »

User Reviews

Good Film
29 February 2008 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Hands of Orlac, The (1924)

*** (out of 4)

This German version of the famous story is certainly a lot better than the boring 1961 version with Christopher Lee and is also a step up from the more famous 1935 film Mad Love with Peter Lorre. As the story goes, a concert pianist (Conrad Veidt) has his hands damaged during a train wreck but doctor's do a transplant and accidentally give him the hands of a killer. Soon afterwards the hands take on a life of their own and start killing. Here's another German Expressionism horror film that really takes control of the viewer and takes them for a ride. The director, Robert Wiene, also made the masterpiece The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and this film serves as one of the more chilling silent horror films. The best aspect is the performance from Veidt who I found just as good here as he was in The Man Who Laughs. He's able to get sympathy out of the character and he also manages to be very menacing during the murder scenes. The film also has some very eerie and creepy moments including the first scene where the hands come to life. This is a rather rare film and various versions are out there. I was able to view the longest cut of the film (93 minutes) but the title cards were in German with Spanish subs. The music score was also quite horrid so I actually turned the sound off while watching this. With a proper screening I'd certainly raise the rating.

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Austria | Germany



Release Date:

4 June 1928 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Hands of Orlac See more »

Filming Locations:

Listo-Atelier, Vienna, Austria

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (restored DVD) | (2013 restored)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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