Hands of a Stranger (1962): Newt Arnold’s Low-Budget Remake of Seminal Horror The Hands of Orlac

Newt Arnold’s low-budget indie, Hands of a Stranger, is unofficially the fourth film adaptation of the seminal horror film, The Hands of Orlac.

Grade: C+ (**1/2* out of *****)

Hands of a Stranger
Hands of a Stranger (1962) sm.jpg

theatrical release poster

Narrative Premise:

When the hands of pianist Vernon Paris are destroyed in a taxicab accident, he receives a double hand transplant from a recent murder victim.

Detailed Plot

Although lead surgeon Dr. Harding is pleased with the successful operation, Vernon is distressed, unable to accept his new hands. Meanwhile, the doctor is questioned by police Lieutenant Syms about a recent murder victim and the secrecy surrounding his operating room.

Feeling sullen, Vernon seeks comfort from his girlfriend, Eileen, but she is unsympathetic. In fact, she becomes repelled by his scarred hands, and while upset, she knocks over candle, setting her dress on fire. As she burns to death, Vernon freezes and does nothing to save her.

Vernon starts to become even more unstable and goes on a violent rampage. He visits the home of the taxi driver who caused the accident, and after being unable to play the piano for the driver’s son, he kills the young boy.

While at a local fair, Vernon is tortured by images of player pianos and bumper cars, and nearly strangles to death a carnival barker. Now focused on vengeance, he murders a doctor who assisted in the surgery, along with his fiancée.

Finally, after killing another doctor, Vernon retreats to empty concert hall. He reveals to his sister his latest victim, then begins to manically pound on the piano keys, proving he will never be able to play the instrument again.

In the end, he grabs Dr. Harding and tries to strangle, but he is killed by Lt. Syms who arrives at the last minute

Cast

Joan Harvey as Dina Paris
James Stapleton as Vernon Paris
Ted Otis as Dr. Ross Compton
Michael Rye as George Britton
Laurence Haddon as Lt. Syms
Elaine Martone as Eileen Hunter
George Sawaya as Tony Wilder, the cab driver
Michael Du Pont as Dr. Ken Fry
Sally Kellerman as Sue
David Kramer as Carnival Barker
Irish McCalla as Holly
Barry Gordon as “Skeet” Wilder

Credits:

Directed by Newt Arnold (as Newton Arnold)

Screenplay by Newt Arnold, based on idea from Les Mains d’Orlac 1920 novel by Maurice Renard

Produced by Arnold Michael Du Pont

Cinematography: Henry Cronjager Jr.

Edited by Bert Honey

Music by Richard LaSalle

Production company: Glenwood-Neve Productions

Distributed by Allied Artists Pictures

Release date April 22, 1962 (U.S.)

Running time: 85 minutes

Budget: $168,000