Beast with Five Fingers (1946)

 “In my mind there is no doubt the hand is walking around.”

In a plot that would make Edgar Allan Poe proud, the gothic thriller The Beast With Five Fingers explores the idea of revenge from beyond the grave. The reclusive and wealthy Francis Ingram (Victor Francen) lives in his villa in Italy surrounded by his nurse and caretaker, Julie (Andrea King), hanger on-composer Bruce Conrad (Robert Alda) and librarian Hilary Cummins (Peter Lorre) who’s obsessed with the occult and has free use of Ingram’s extensive library for his research. A stroke has left Ingram wheelchair bound and with one arm paralyzed. Ingram, who is imperious, demanding and controlling has fallen in love with Julie, and she wants to leave as she finds the situation with Ingram has become too suffocating.

When Ingram is killed in an accident, his relatives–Raymond and Donald Arlington (Charles Dingle & John Alvin) hurry over from England to claim the estate. At the reading of the will, everyone is surprised to learn that Julie is the sole heir. A squabble breaks out between Julie and the Arlingtons who promptly threaten to challenge the will. Ingram’s wily lawyer offers to represent the relatives in what promises to be a lucrative case, but then one night he’s strangled.

A trail of clues leads to the crypt that houses Ingram’s body, and when his coffin is opened, the police inspector discovers that Ingram’s hand has been removed….The Beast With Five Fingers is a gothic film with heavy psychological overtones that play with several plot layers–is Ingram’s hand really on the loose, murdering those who attempt to thwart his will, or is this a trick designed to cover another’s murderous intent? That’s for the viewer to decide. Yes, the film is cheesy, semi-hysterical and silly, but it’s still rather well done, and it’s one of those films that stick to your brain long after the credits roll. From director Robert Florey.

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