blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Amazing Exploits of the Clutching Hand (1936) ch12 – Hidden Danger

Not only is twelfth time the charm for Clutching Hand as far as chapter title matching content–there is a real Hidden Danger–this chapter also has master detective, constant cosplayer, and general goof lead Jack Mulhall actually solve a crime. And the solution is really, really clever. The reveal sequence isn’t particularly great–it’s not like director Herman all of a sudden got infused with competence–but it’s actually clever. It’s a shock.

Then there’s a terrible, tedious car chase so Clutching Hand immediately gets away from the competence and embraces its badness.

The chapter opens with Mulhall and Robert Walker escaping a boat. They’ve both been shanghaiied. Later on, after the escape and a showr, Mulhall talks about palling with the captain. He couldn’t possibly have known about the shanghaiing. It’s a little thing, but it’s dumb and draws attention to itself. The serial really wants to remind people about the young guy pretending to be an old man in a wheelchair who’s supposedly the guy kidnapped in the first chapter but not. Only Mulhall never investigates the guy in the wheelchair. Because he’s a bad detective and Clutching Hand has a bad script.

Also, it’s got a confusing amount of bland white guys walking around in suits and hats. Despite being in the serial from the first scene, I confused Walker with some other guy last chapter and didn’t realize he’d been the one shanghaiied. Luckily it matters not when considering the lousy narrative. Nothing matters when considering Clutching Hand, except wondering why one is bothering consider it.

Other than the murder solution this chapter. It’s so clever it must have come from the source novel. I can’t believe Hand’s screenwriters came up with it. Especially not considering the godawful cliffhanger they use at the end here.

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