30 user 8 critic

Guilty Hands (1931)

Passed | | Drama, Crime | 22 August 1931 (USA)
A district attorney commits the perfect murder when he kills his daughter's womanizing fiancé and then tries framing the fiancé's lover.


W.S. Van Dyke, Lionel Barrymore (uncredited)


Bayard Veiller (screenplay), Bayard Veiller (story)




Complete credited cast:
Lionel Barrymore ... Richard Grant
Kay Francis ... Marjorie West
Madge Evans ... Barbara 'Babs' Grant
William Bakewell ... Tommy Osgood
C. Aubrey Smith ... Reverend Hastings
Polly Moran ... Aunt Maggie
Alan Mowbray ... Gordon Rich
Forrester Harvey ... Spencer Wilson
Charles Crockett ... H.G. Smith
Henry A. Barrows Henry A. Barrows ... Harvey Scott (as Henry Barrows)


Richard Grant is a lawyer who believes that murder under certain circumstances is justifiable. Richard's daughter, Barbara, takes her dad to a dinner party hosted by Richard's old friend, wealthy playboy, Gordon Rich. Gordon tells Richard that he and Barbara plan to marry. Richard threatens Gordon's life if he marries Barbara. Richard is unaware that Barbara has no plans to marry Gordon, and she's in love with Tommy Osgood. Richard enraged of the thought of Barbara marrying Gordon goes into Gordon's room, undetected, and kills him...Has Richard committed the perfect crime? Written by Kelly

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Mystery... chills... an ending that you'll never guess! See more »


Drama | Crime


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This film was first telecast in New Haven CT Monday 4 March 1957 on WNHC (Channel 8), in Altoona PA 26 March 1957 on WFBG (Channel 10), in Honolulu 8 July 1957 on KHVH (Channel 13), in Minneapolis 31 August 1957 on KMGM (Channel 9), in Norfolk VA 5 September 1957 on WTAR (Channel 3), in Philadelphia 3 April 1958 on WFIL (Channel 6), in Kalamazoo 3 May 1958 on WKZO (Channel 3), in Cincinnati 10 June 1958 on WLW-T (Channel 5), in Chicago 4 August 1958 on WBBM (Channel 2), in New York City 15 September 1958 on WCBS (Channel 2), in Phoenix 13 October 1958 on KPHO (Channel 5), in Memphis 28 November 1958 on WHBQ (Channel 13), and in Tampa 3 December 1958 on WFLA (Channel 8). Pre-code situations, some surprisingly dynamite dialogue, and a bizarre twist to the plot have since endeared it to vintage film enthusiasts and it's still occasionally dusted off on cable TV on Turner Classic Movies. See more »


A 1918 Victrola does not get "PLUGGED IN", rather it is wound up like a clock. See more »


God Save the King!
Written by Henry Carey (1744)
A few bars played on piano
See more »

User Reviews

Some Unusual Aspects
12 April 2012 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

Offbeat little programmer that plays like a whodunit, but without the mystery. We know from the outset who killed the bounder Gordon Rich (Mowbray). The fun is in watching the narrative unfold like a Charlie Chan, except it's the killer, of all people, who assembles the "suspects" and gathers the clues. In that respect, it's an interesting variation on the standard whodunit of the time.

Watch for cult actress Kay Francis as the dark haired Marjorie. With her distinctive looks and strong personality, I can see why Francis has remained a favorite with old movie fans. Also, there's the lovely Madge Evans as the winsome daughter. Too bad she's become so obscure given her obvious talents. And at least the notorious Lionel Barrymore, in the lead, hams it up less than usual.

A kind of philosophical question is posed in the subtext. That is, is murder ever justifiable. Certainly, getting rid of the unprincipled Gordon Rich, who's ruined the lives of many young women, poses the question sharply. At the same time, the movie responds to the issue in an interesting and unexpected way. All in all, the movie is dated in many respects, but is still worth catching up with.

(In passing—catch the primitive sound effect of thunder that sounds like someone is snapping a Kevlar tarp! I expect in 1931, the studios were still perfecting their sound effects.)

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

22 August 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Guilty Hands See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

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