The Whip Hand (1951)

81-82 mins | Drama | October 1951

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Man He Found . The film's release title, The Whip Hand is derived from horse-racing terminology, meaning someone who has the upper hand, or is in control. RKO production files, contained at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, and HR , NYT and LAT news items add the following information about the production: RKO purchased Roy Hamilton's original screen story in Jul 1949. Curt Siodmak worked on a draft of the screenplay in 1949, but the extent of his contribution to the final film, if any, has not been determined. In Jan 1950, Stanley Rubin was assigned to write and produce the picture. Although Rubin was replaced as producer by Lewis J. Rachmil, his contribution to the final script has not been determined. Some scenes were filmed in Big Bear Lake in Southern California's San Bernadino Mountains, and at the RKO ranch in Encino.
       The picture, which was shot in great secrecy, was first set in postwar New England. The original story line featured a plot to hide the still-alive Adolf Hitler. In Nov 1950, after viewing a rough cut of the film, RKO head Howard Hughes ordered extensive retakes. Hughes demanded that the Hitler plot line be replaced with the Communist germ warfare story. The following actors were listed in the CBCS, but were cut from the final film: Jamesson Shade, Brick Sullivan, Bob Thom, Art Dupuis, Bill Yetter, Jr., Bill Yetter, Sr. and Bobby Watson, who played Hitler. Modern sources also add Stanley Blystone and Douglas Evans to the cast. The Whip Hand marked the first time ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Man He Found . The film's release title, The Whip Hand is derived from horse-racing terminology, meaning someone who has the upper hand, or is in control. RKO production files, contained at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, and HR , NYT and LAT news items add the following information about the production: RKO purchased Roy Hamilton's original screen story in Jul 1949. Curt Siodmak worked on a draft of the screenplay in 1949, but the extent of his contribution to the final film, if any, has not been determined. In Jan 1950, Stanley Rubin was assigned to write and produce the picture. Although Rubin was replaced as producer by Lewis J. Rachmil, his contribution to the final script has not been determined. Some scenes were filmed in Big Bear Lake in Southern California's San Bernadino Mountains, and at the RKO ranch in Encino.
       The picture, which was shot in great secrecy, was first set in postwar New England. The original story line featured a plot to hide the still-alive Adolf Hitler. In Nov 1950, after viewing a rough cut of the film, RKO head Howard Hughes ordered extensive retakes. Hughes demanded that the Hitler plot line be replaced with the Communist germ warfare story. The following actors were listed in the CBCS, but were cut from the final film: Jamesson Shade, Brick Sullivan, Bob Thom, Art Dupuis, Bill Yetter, Jr., Bill Yetter, Sr. and Bobby Watson, who played Hitler. Modern sources also add Stanley Blystone and Douglas Evans to the cast. The Whip Hand marked the first time that actress Sally Bliss appeared under the name Carla Balenda. According to modern sources, the film cost $376,000 to make and lost $225,000 at the box office. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Nov 1951.
---
Daily Variety
19 Oct 51
p. 3.
Film Daily
24 Oct 51
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jul 1949.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jan 50
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Apr 50
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
25 May 50
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
26 May 50
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 50
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 50
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Nov 50
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Nov 50
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 51
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
26 May 1950.
---
Los Angeles Times
29 Nov 1950.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
27 Oct 51
p. 1075.
New York Times
12 Nov 1950.
---
New York Times
3 Dec 1950.
---
Variety
24 Oct 51
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Fill-In dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
MUSIC
Mus dir
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Man He Found
Release Date:
October 1951
Production Date:
25 May--10 June 1950
addl scenes 23 June--24 June 1950
14 November--24 November 1950
8 December 1950
3 May--5 May 1951
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 October 1951
Copyright Number:
LP1312
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
81-82
Length(in feet):
7,369
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
14630
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At the Kremlin in Moscow, Russian military men devise a scheme to cripple the United States, selecting Winnoga, Wisconsin, as their base of operations. Sometime later, at Lake Winnoga, a rainstorm interrupts Matt Corbin's fishing trip, and as he is scrambling for cover, he slips and hits his head on a rock. The injured Matt drives to the nearest residence, a sprawling, secluded lodge, but the armed guard at the entrance refuses to help. Matt finally reaches Winnoga, where gas station attendant Nate Garr directs him to the home of town physician Dr. Edward Keller. There, Matt is greeted by Keller's sister Janet, who expresses surprise when Matt mentions that he was at the lodge. While tending to Matt's head wound, Keller explains that the lodge's owner, Peterson, is an eccentric who loathes outsiders. Keller then escorts Matt to the Winnoga Inn, where the owner, Steve Loomis, states that the lake trout were destroyed by a virus five years before, turning Winnoga into a ghost town. Intrigued, Matt reveals that he writes for American View magazine and declares that Winnoga's trials might make a good article. Later, after he has settled into his room, Matt visits elderly Luther Adams at his general store and asks him about Winnoga. Luther comments that after the fish died, the town was bought out by "newcomers," including Loomis, but that he refused to sell. Before Luther can say any more, Garr appears and stares menacingly at him. Matt then notices Janet heading for the movie theater and joins her. Janet reacts to Matt with a mixture of ... +


At the Kremlin in Moscow, Russian military men devise a scheme to cripple the United States, selecting Winnoga, Wisconsin, as their base of operations. Sometime later, at Lake Winnoga, a rainstorm interrupts Matt Corbin's fishing trip, and as he is scrambling for cover, he slips and hits his head on a rock. The injured Matt drives to the nearest residence, a sprawling, secluded lodge, but the armed guard at the entrance refuses to help. Matt finally reaches Winnoga, where gas station attendant Nate Garr directs him to the home of town physician Dr. Edward Keller. There, Matt is greeted by Keller's sister Janet, who expresses surprise when Matt mentions that he was at the lodge. While tending to Matt's head wound, Keller explains that the lodge's owner, Peterson, is an eccentric who loathes outsiders. Keller then escorts Matt to the Winnoga Inn, where the owner, Steve Loomis, states that the lake trout were destroyed by a virus five years before, turning Winnoga into a ghost town. Intrigued, Matt reveals that he writes for American View magazine and declares that Winnoga's trials might make a good article. Later, after he has settled into his room, Matt visits elderly Luther Adams at his general store and asks him about Winnoga. Luther comments that after the fish died, the town was bought out by "newcomers," including Loomis, but that he refused to sell. Before Luther can say any more, Garr appears and stares menacingly at him. Matt then notices Janet heading for the movie theater and joins her. Janet reacts to Matt with a mixture of pleasure and fear and, before saying goodnight, urges him to leave Winnoga. The next morning, Matt upsets Loomis and Chick, his helper, when he declares that he is staying in Winnoga to write the article. Loomis orders Chick to follow Matt as he explores the town, but Matt loses Chick as he sneaks onto the lodge property with his camera. Observing what appears to be a doctor and some patients, Matt snaps a few shots of the lodge's exterior before guards descend and order him away. Later, Matt visits Janet and demands to know what is going on. She says little, but warns him that he will not be able to call or wire his editor, as all communications are controlled by Loomis' wife Molly. During their conversation, Matt notices some books on bacteriology on Keller's shelf and discovers they were written by Dr. Wilhelm Bucholtz. Unable to persuade Janet to go with him to the next town, Matt prepares to leave on his own, but finds his car will not start. Chick then smugly shows Matt his now-smashed camera, which Matt had hidden near the lodge. Trapped, Matt asks Luther to place an order with his supplier and then slip the delivery man a message for Matt's editor. The ploy works, but when the supplier reads Matt's cryptic message, he calls Luther to confirm its contents. Molly and Loomis eavesdrop on the conversation, and that night, Keller is sent to kill Luther with an overdose of a heart drug. After Matt learns of Luther's death, Loomis takes him to meet Peterson at the inn. Playing the part of the rich eccentric, Peterson offers to give Matt a tour of the lodge the next day. Once Matt retires to his room, however, Peterson orders Keller to kill Janet, who he suspects is talking too much. At the magazine office, meanwhile, Matt's editor, Bradford, receives his message and deduces that Matt has located Bucholtz, a sought-after Nazi war criminal. Back in Winnoga, Matt slips away from the inn and finds Janet. After Janet reveals that Keller has asked her to bring the heart medicine to the inn, Matt convinces her that her life is in danger. Together, they sneak a canoe onto the lake, and while Janet waits in the boat, Matt breaks into the lodge. There, Bucholtz is discussing his plan to poison the water supply of Chicago using killer bacteria he has developed, and proudly shows a colleague his human "guinea pigs." In town, meanwhile, Janet's and Matt's absence is discovered and a manhunt ensues. Matt returns safely to the canoe, then to avoid capture, he and Janet hide beneath a rock ledge, half-submerged in the lake. After Matt strangles Chick, who is perched on top of the ledge, he and Janet flee into the woods, eventually coming to a cabin owned by Mabel Turner. Mabel offers to drive them to the sheriff, but actually delivers them to Loomis and the others. Now prisoners, Janet and Matt are brought to the lodge, where Bucholtz informs them of his deadly scheme. Just as Janet fully understands her brother's complicity in the Communists' plot, Peterson orders Keller to give her the fatal injection. Keller shoots Peterson instead, but is himself shot. At that moment, government agents sent by Bradford burst into the lodge and confront Bucholtz. Bucholtz, however, is in a room protected by bullet-proof glass and threatens to blow up the entire lodge with a device he is holding. Unknown to Bucholtz, Keller has given Matt the key to the room, and Matt sneaks up and disarms the scientist. Later, Matt's article appears in American View , along with a photograph of him embracing a smiling Janet. +

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.