In France, an insane surgeon's obsession with an actress from England leads him to replace her pianist husband's hands that got mangled in an accident with the hands of a late knife murderer which still have the urge to throw knives.
In Paris, the great surgeon Dr. Gogol falls madly in love with stage actress Yvonne Orlac, and his ardor disturbs her quite a bit when he discovers to his horror that she is married to concert pianist Stephen Orlac. Shortly thereafter, Stephen's hands are badly crushed in a train accident- beyond the power of standard medicine. Knowing that his hands are his life, Yvonne overcomes her fear and goes to Dr. Gogol, to beg him to help. Gogol decides to surgically graft the hands of executed murderer Rollo onto Stephen Orlac, the surgery is successful but has terrible side-effects...Written by
Ken Yousten <firstname.lastname@example.org>
After its initial release, 15 minutes were cut from the film, including the pre-credit warning to the audience and the surgery to obtain Rollo's hands. See more »
When Rollo goes to the guillotine, the device is shown against the sky. The "sky" has seams in it, revealing it to be a backdrop. See more »
Reagan, the American Reporter:
It's the old story. The old family doctor stuck on a girl and tries to plant a murder on her husband to get rid of him. He's been doing something mighty queer with Rollo's body.
See more »
At the end of the opening credits, the titles are painted on a glass window pane, which is broken when a fist punches through it. See more »
Excellent, morbid story of a brilliant sureon's (Lorre) obsessive, fetishistic love for a Grand Guignol style actress. The early scenes are perhaps the best film evocative of actual Grand Guignol sadefests. Lorre manages to procure a perfect waxen statue of his love object, thus introducing doppleganger horror, a relatively rare treat in American horror. The main plot focuses on Lorre's attempt to implicate Drake's husband in a series of murders by convincing him that the hands he grafted for him are acting of their own will (as in "Hands of Orlac"). Many subtle moments (which critics have not credited the film for), some garishly out-of-place slapstick humor is the only negative aspect. Fantastic photography.
This is Lorre's entry into classic horror stardom: Karloff has his Frankenstein monster, Lugosi has Dracula (forever, folks), Chaney Jr. has the wolfman, and Lorre's got this lesser-known but equally classic film to recommend him as one of the major horror stars of the classic era. This film represents MGM's entry into the early 30s horror film sweepstakes as well, and they did well to associate themselves with solid hands like Freund's and Lorre's. Hands..... hmmmmm unintended pun. Anyway, if anyone out there is a fan of classic horror films and has not yet seen this one, put it at the top of your list.
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