Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (1948)

79 mins | Drama | November 1948

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HISTORY

The working title for this film was The Unafraid . In 1948 Dell Publications released a new paperback edition of Gerald Butler's novel retitled The Unafraid . According to HR news items, the film's title was to be changed from Kiss the Blood Off My Hands to the less graphic Blood on My Hands . A NYT news item indicates that the PCA initially blocked the full title, but that decision was later overturned on appeal.
       The following written prologue appears in the onscreen credits: "The aftermath of war is rubble--the rubble of cities and men-- They are the casualties of a pitiless destruction. The cities can be rebuilt, but the wounds of men, whether of the mind or the body, heal slowly. This is the story of one such man and the girl whose path he crossed."
       A news item from the LAT indicates that Eagle-Lion Productions purchased an option on Butler's novel in 1946 as a starring vehilcle for Robert Donat. Kiss the Blood Off My Hands was the first production for Norma Productions, an independent company formed by producer and actor Harold Hecht and Burt Lancaster and named after Lancaster's wife. The film marked British actor Robert Newton's American film debut. According to a Feb 1948 HR item, cinematographer Gregg Toland was originally hired as the director of photographer. Studio production notes indicate that some scenes were filmed on location at the Griffith Park Zoo in Los Angeles. During the film's production Joan Fontaine was absent for 12 days due to her pregnancy.
       Contemporary news items indicate ... More Less

The working title for this film was The Unafraid . In 1948 Dell Publications released a new paperback edition of Gerald Butler's novel retitled The Unafraid . According to HR news items, the film's title was to be changed from Kiss the Blood Off My Hands to the less graphic Blood on My Hands . A NYT news item indicates that the PCA initially blocked the full title, but that decision was later overturned on appeal.
       The following written prologue appears in the onscreen credits: "The aftermath of war is rubble--the rubble of cities and men-- They are the casualties of a pitiless destruction. The cities can be rebuilt, but the wounds of men, whether of the mind or the body, heal slowly. This is the story of one such man and the girl whose path he crossed."
       A news item from the LAT indicates that Eagle-Lion Productions purchased an option on Butler's novel in 1946 as a starring vehilcle for Robert Donat. Kiss the Blood Off My Hands was the first production for Norma Productions, an independent company formed by producer and actor Harold Hecht and Burt Lancaster and named after Lancaster's wife. The film marked British actor Robert Newton's American film debut. According to a Feb 1948 HR item, cinematographer Gregg Toland was originally hired as the director of photographer. Studio production notes indicate that some scenes were filmed on location at the Griffith Park Zoo in Los Angeles. During the film's production Joan Fontaine was absent for 12 days due to her pregnancy.
       Contemporary news items indicate that in Mar 1948 Charles K. Feldman Productions filed a million dollar suit against ten co-defendants, including Universal-International, Norma Productions, Inc., Gerald Butler, Richard Vernon, Burt Lancaster, Joan Fontaine, Eagle-Lion of New York, Phil Berg-Bert Allenberg, Inc., Curtil Brown, Ltd., Harold Hecht and Allan Collins, over ownership of the screen rights to Butler's novel. DV notes that in Jul 1948 the California Superior Court sustained the demurrer of Universal-International and the defendants. There is no indication that the Feldman Group took further action. Fontaine and Lancaster recreated their roles for the Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on 21 Feb 1949 under the title The Unafraid . Jay Novello, who had a small role in the film, was also in the broadcast. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
16 Oct 1948.
---
Daily Variety
1 Jul 48
p. 11.
Daily Variety
14 Oct 48
p. 3, 14
Film Daily
15 Oct 48
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 1947.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 48
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 48
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Mar 48
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 48
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 48
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 48
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 48
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 48
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Nov 48
p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jun 1948.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
9 Oct 48
p. 4342.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
16 Oct 48
pp. 4349-50.
New York Times
21 Mar 1948.
---
New York Times
30 Oct 48
p. 10.
Variety
20 Oct 48
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Harold Hecht-Norma Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Addl dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Spec photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Coordinator of prod
Tech adv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Kiss the Blood Off My Hands by Gerald Butler (London, 1940).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Unafraid
Release Date:
November 1948
Production Date:
mid March--mid April 1948
Copyright Claimant:
Norma Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
16 November 1948
Copyright Number:
LP1961
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
79
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13273
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In London, Canadian war veteran Bill Saunders, whose two years in a German labor camp have left him prone to explosive fits of violence, accidentally kills a man in a pub. The crime is witnessed by black markeeter Harry Carter. Fleeing the police, Bill climbs through the open window of the apartment of medical assistant Jane Wharton. Jane promises not to report Bill's break-in if he allows her to go to work and leaves her apartment. Bill agrees and later in the street robs a man's wallet and buys new clothes, then waits for Jane outside the clinic. He follows her to a zoo and she grudgingly befriends him, agreeing to spend the afternoon with him at the racetrack. While betting on the races, Bill runs into Harry, who threatens blackmail. On the train returning to the city, Bill gets involved with a cardsharp and beats him up when the man refuses to continue playing. Bill and Jane jump the train and Jane is outraged at his violent behavior and leaves him. When a policeman questions him, Bill strikes him and is promptly arrested and sentenced to six months imprisonment and eighteen lashes for brutality. Upon his release, Bill runs into Harry, who suggests they become partners for a major heist, but Bill is evasive. Instead, he visits Jane, who had tried unsuccessfully to visit him in prison. She offers to get him a job as a supplies driver for the clinic and he gratefully accepts. Bill settles contentedly into his job, but Harry tracks him down and demands that he help him steal the clinic's penicillin to sell ... +


In London, Canadian war veteran Bill Saunders, whose two years in a German labor camp have left him prone to explosive fits of violence, accidentally kills a man in a pub. The crime is witnessed by black markeeter Harry Carter. Fleeing the police, Bill climbs through the open window of the apartment of medical assistant Jane Wharton. Jane promises not to report Bill's break-in if he allows her to go to work and leaves her apartment. Bill agrees and later in the street robs a man's wallet and buys new clothes, then waits for Jane outside the clinic. He follows her to a zoo and she grudgingly befriends him, agreeing to spend the afternoon with him at the racetrack. While betting on the races, Bill runs into Harry, who threatens blackmail. On the train returning to the city, Bill gets involved with a cardsharp and beats him up when the man refuses to continue playing. Bill and Jane jump the train and Jane is outraged at his violent behavior and leaves him. When a policeman questions him, Bill strikes him and is promptly arrested and sentenced to six months imprisonment and eighteen lashes for brutality. Upon his release, Bill runs into Harry, who suggests they become partners for a major heist, but Bill is evasive. Instead, he visits Jane, who had tried unsuccessfully to visit him in prison. She offers to get him a job as a supplies driver for the clinic and he gratefully accepts. Bill settles contentedly into his job, but Harry tracks him down and demands that he help him steal the clinic's penicillin to sell on the black market. Bill agrees on the condition that this is the only illegal job in which he will participate. On the night of the planned theft, Jane unexpectedly asks to ride along with Bill. When Bill tries to call off the heist, Harry refuses and Bill beats him up. He continues the normal delivery with Jane, taking the drugs to the homes of several sick children. The next night Bill searches for Harry, who goes to Jane's apartment to expose Bill. When Harry attempts to assault Jane, she stabs him with a pair of scissors, then flees to Bill's room. He returns to her apartment and discovers Harry still alive and takes him back to his own flat, where Harry dies. Panicked, Bill tries to arrange passage on the ship making the black market run, but the captain refuses to carry them unless Bill brings the penicillin. Bill returns to Jane and tells her Harry was not in her apartment and so must be alive, and convinces her to come away with him to America. She discovers the bloody scissors in his pocket, however, and determines to give herself up to the police. Bill tries to dissuade her, but eventually agrees their only chance at happiness is to face up to their actions. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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