The Amazing Exploits of the Clutching Hand (1936, Albert Herman), Chapter 7: The Invisible Enemy

The Invisible Enemy does indeed feature an invisible enemy. Sort of. It’s the shadow of the Clutching Hand, who despite being the villain for the entire serial, is mentioned with surprise when Jack Mulhall reads another of the Hand’s threatening notes. On one hand (no pun intended), it’s a reminder to the audience. On the other, the serial’s called The Amazing Exploits of the Clutching Hand so if the filmmakers think they need to remind the audience the Clutching Hand is part of the serial… well, that level of condescension is concerning.
The previous chapter ended on a not terrible cliffhanger (for Clutching Hand), but the resolution here messes it up immediately. It’s a fast, trick solution, with some bad editing from Earl Turner, bad director from Herman, and terrible sound design. The opening action set piece is just as incompetent as the fight scenes, which is saying something because the fight scenes in Clutching Hand are a special kind of bad.

The story in Enemy has to do with the board members meeting at presumed widow Mae Busch’s estate so they can go over some reports. The Clutching Hand wants to steal their paperwork. Then at some point the Hand attacks Mulhall, which I think has happened before, and even though they’re arch enemies, the Hand leaves Mulhall alive. Unfortunately.

There’s a bad chase scene–on foot–and some more danger for sidekick Rex Lease. Not much to do for the rest of the cast. I mean, Mulhall gets to muck up some scenes, but Busch, for instance, just gets to hint at her own subplot before coming back in for the main stuff. Only the main stuff is those mysterious Clutching Hand attacks and Busch is background at best for them. Clutching Hand isn’t big on characters or character development. Or being mysterious. It’s a not mysterious mystery.

The serial’s still about the missing pages of the missing gold formula–though there’s one minor development regarding its ownership–and everyone just changes locations when trying to find them. Enemy is almost halfway through and master detective Mulhall has still made zero progress in solving the case. It’s going to get beyond tedious, no doubt.

Especially since Enemy‘s cliffhanger is a repeat of a previous chapter’s cliffhanger. Yawn.


Directed by Albert Herman; screenplay by Leon D’Usseau and Dallas M. Fitzgerald, based on an adaptation by George M. Merrick and Eddie Granemann and the novel by Arthur B. Reeve; director of photography, James Diamond; edited by Earl Turner; produced by Louis Weiss; released by Stage & Screen Productions.

Starring Jack Mulhall (Craig Kennedy), Rex Lease (Walter Jameson), Mae Busch (Mrs. Gironda), Ruth Mix (Shirley McMillan), William Farnum (Gordon Gaunt), Marion Shilling (Verna Gironda), Bryant Washburn (Denton), Robert Frazer (Dr. Gironda), Gaston Glass (Louis Bouchard), Mahlon Hamilton (Montgomery), Robert Walker (Joe Mitchell), Yakima Canutt (Number Eight), Joseph W. Girard (Lawyer Cromwell), Frank Leigh (Maj. Courtney Wickham), Jon Hall (Frank Hobart), Franklyn Farnum (Nicky), and Knute Erickson (Capt. Hansen).


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