The Beast with Five Fingers (1947)

90 mins | Horror | 8 February 1947

Director:

Robert Florey

Writer:

Curt Siodmak

Producer:

William Jacobs

Cinematographer:

Wesley Anderson

Editor:

Frank Magee

Production Designer:

Stanley Fleischer

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The film begins with the following written foreword: "This is the story of what happened--or seemed to happen--in the small Italian village of San Stefano nearly 50 years ago." A 15 Nov 1945 HR news item reports that Paul Henreid was to star but turned down the role of "Conrad Ryler" and was placed on suspension. Robert Alda replaced ... More Less

The film begins with the following written foreword: "This is the story of what happened--or seemed to happen--in the small Italian village of San Stefano nearly 50 years ago." A 15 Nov 1945 HR news item reports that Paul Henreid was to star but turned down the role of "Conrad Ryler" and was placed on suspension. Robert Alda replaced him. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
30 Nov 1946.
---
Daily Variety
20 Dec 46
p. 3, 17
Film Daily
20 Dec 46
p. 22.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 45
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Nov 45
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Nov 45
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jan 46
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Dec 46
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
5 Jan 46
p. 2786.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
21 Dec 46
p. 3374.
New York Times
26 Dec 46
p. 28.
Variety
25 Dec 46
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial dir
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Addl dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d cam
Asst cam
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Supv art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Props
COSTUMES
Ward
Ward
MUSIC
Orch arr
SOUND
Re-rec and eff mixer
Re-rec and eff mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff dir
Spec eff
Spec optical eff
Matte paintings
Matte paintings
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Unit mgr
Unit pub
Scr clerk
Best boy
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "The Beast with Five Fingers" by William Fryer Harvey in The New Decameron (New York, 1919).
DETAILS
Release Date:
8 February 1947
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 25 December 1946
Production Date:
late November 1945--mid January 1946
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
8 February 1947
Copyright Number:
LP819
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
90
Length(in feet):
7,957
Country:
United States
PCA No:
11334
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the small Italian village of San Stefano at the turn of the nineteenth century, small-time confidence man and former musician Conrad Ryler, who now calls himself Bruce Conrad, pays a call on the occupants of the Villa Francesca. They include the villa's owner, Francis Ingram, a partially paralyzed pianist, his beautiful nurse, Julie Holden, and his secretary, Hilary Cummins. When Bruce compliments Ingram on his powerful piano playing, Ingram, who only has the use of one hand, credits Julie's care and inspiration. Unknown to Ingram, however, Julie plans to leave her position. This news greatly upsets Hilary, as her presence frees him to continue his studies of astrology. That night, at a dinner attended by Hilary, Julie, Bruce and Ingram's lawyer, Duprex, Ingram asks his guests to testify to his sanity and then has Bruce and Hilary witness his will. Later, Hilary eavesdrops as Julie invites Bruce to leave Italy and start a new life with her. When Hilary reveals her plans to Ingram, Ingram calls him a liar and chokes him with his good hand. Only Julie's intervention saves Hilary's life. Later, Ingram wakes in the middle of the night and, failing to rouse Julie, wheels himself out of his room and accidentally falls down the stairs to his death. The funeral is attended by Ingram's only relatives, Raymond Arlington and his son Donald. To their dismay, Ingram's will leaves everything to Julie, who announces that she will accept the legacy and remain in Italy. Duprex then offers to help the Arlingtons contest the will for a third of the estate. That night, the villa's residents ... +


In the small Italian village of San Stefano at the turn of the nineteenth century, small-time confidence man and former musician Conrad Ryler, who now calls himself Bruce Conrad, pays a call on the occupants of the Villa Francesca. They include the villa's owner, Francis Ingram, a partially paralyzed pianist, his beautiful nurse, Julie Holden, and his secretary, Hilary Cummins. When Bruce compliments Ingram on his powerful piano playing, Ingram, who only has the use of one hand, credits Julie's care and inspiration. Unknown to Ingram, however, Julie plans to leave her position. This news greatly upsets Hilary, as her presence frees him to continue his studies of astrology. That night, at a dinner attended by Hilary, Julie, Bruce and Ingram's lawyer, Duprex, Ingram asks his guests to testify to his sanity and then has Bruce and Hilary witness his will. Later, Hilary eavesdrops as Julie invites Bruce to leave Italy and start a new life with her. When Hilary reveals her plans to Ingram, Ingram calls him a liar and chokes him with his good hand. Only Julie's intervention saves Hilary's life. Later, Ingram wakes in the middle of the night and, failing to rouse Julie, wheels himself out of his room and accidentally falls down the stairs to his death. The funeral is attended by Ingram's only relatives, Raymond Arlington and his son Donald. To their dismay, Ingram's will leaves everything to Julie, who announces that she will accept the legacy and remain in Italy. Duprex then offers to help the Arlingtons contest the will for a third of the estate. That night, the villa's residents see a light in the mausoleum and later Ingram's distinctive arrangement of Bach is heard on the piano, although no one appears to be playing it. After Duprex' body is found nearby, the police commissioner discovers that Ingram's good hand has been cut from his body. The commissioner also reveals that the window of the mausoleum has been broken from the inside, and handprints have been left on the ground beneath. Meanwhile, Donald remembers a hidden safe in Ingram's study and tells Hilary that he is sure an earlier will is inside. After dark, Donald sneaks into the library, watched by the commissioner, and while the piano mysteriously plays, a hand reaches out and chokes Donald. The commissioner saves him from the attack, but later, as Hilary sits in the library, he sees a disembodied hand crawl toward him. Fearfully, he captures it and nails it to a board so that it cannot escape. In the middle of the night, Donald remembers that the combination to the safe is based on the number of bones in the hand. He, his father, and the commissioner open the safe and find the hand. In the confusion that follows, Hilary and Julie are left alone together. Julie asks Hilary to confess to the murder of Duprex and the attack on Donald, but learning that she has told no one of her suspicions, Hilary attacks her. Julie is saved when Hilary hears the piano playing. Now completely mad, he tries to burn the hand, but it chokes him to death. Later, the commissioner finds the wire that Hilary used to activate a recording of Ingram playing the piano and reveals that the appearances of the hand were all in Hilary's mind. The mystery solved, Julie turns the villa over to the Arlingtons and leaves with Bruce. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.