blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Amazing Exploits of the Clutching Hand (1936, Albert Herman), Chapter 11: The Ship of Peril

The Ship of Peril features the single most surprising thing about The Amazing Exploits of the Clutching Hand so far. They actually shoot some of the chapter on a ship. Not all of it–like when the rough and tumble crew are below deck, it’s obviously not a ship, but there are at least a half dozen shots aboard an actual vessel. Not sure if its a seaworthy vessel, but… a vessel is something for Clutching Hand. Especially since when Jack Mulhall–in his rough and tumble seaman disguise–arrives at the dock there’s no dock and just some vague industrial background. Obviously no water, which suggests no boat.

But, there’s a boat. A real boat. On real water. Big surprise.

Otherwise, of course, there are no surprises. The cliffhanger resolution is really lazy–Rex Lease comes in with his pistol and stops the fistfight before it even starts. Unfortunately, Lease isn’t wielding two pistols and shooting them off like before. It’s just a boring resolution before cutting to the Clutching Hand in the hideout Mulhall found last chapter or the one before but apparently didn’t close down because then where would the Clutching Hand be able to meet with his gang.

Most of the chapter concerns the Clutching Hand gang trying to shanghai Mulhall’s mole at the sailor bar–who’s been run out of there like three times yet still is able to keep going back–onto the ship… of Peril.

For a while it seems like the ship might actually be a new location and, if not interesting, at least new. But no, it’s just the not ship below deck and then the few quick shots on (a real) deck.

The serial’s still dragging out ex-con Robert Walker’s involvement with widow Mae Busch, which is kind of exceptional given we’re eleven chapters in and there’s still not even a whiff of logic to it. Being exceptionally bad is about the only exceptional Clutching Hand might achieve. Sadly it’s still tediously bad. But high hopes.


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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