Tag Archives: Earl Turner

The Amazing Exploits of the Clutching Hand (1936, Albert Herman), Chapter 12: 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.

CREDITS

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).


RELATED

Advertisements

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.

CREDITS

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).


RELATED

The Amazing Exploits of the Clutching Hand (1936, Albert Herman), Chapter 10: A Desperate Chance

While he’s lost his advantage (apparently) by the cliffhanger, master detective and frequent dimwit Jack Mulhall bumbles his way into a win in A Desperate Chance. Because he’s got her house bugged (with a camera, natch), he’s able to see Mae Busch get conned and go to… rescue her? Not clear yet. He doesn’t seem worried about her safety, just apprehending the con men, which involves one of Mulhall’s sidekicks impersonating the con man in the ceremonial robe. Being a wealthy woman, Busch apparently doesn’t see anything strange in having a “Ceremony of the Jewels.” Clutching Hand is often jaw-dropping dumb multiple times a chapter. Chance is no different.

There’s also no Desperate Chance in the chapter. There are no chances, there is little desperation, certainly no special desperation. There’s a lot of nonsense filler scenes and red herrings, however.

The chapter opens at the sailor bar slash villain hideout. There are two separate villain hideouts in the upstairs part of the bar, but Mulhall only knows about one of them. In the previous chapter’s cliffhanger, the (unseen) Clutching Hand seemingly shot Mulhall dead. Unfortunately, this chapter reveals Mulhall’s got a handy-dandy bulletproof vest.

Most of the chapter involves the red herring surrounding Busch and her jewels. There’s a little with corrupt businessmen trying to strong arm Ruth Mix and, separately, get Mulhall kicked off the case, but it’s filler. Ditto the car chase and fisticuffs. Filler and filler. Clutching Hand has way too many subplots for its screenwriters; they can’t even make the main one interesting.

This chapter’s cliffhanger doesn’t even put anyone in life threatening danger. It just cuts out at the start of some fisticuffs.

The only impressive thing about Clutching Hand is how it never gets any better. There’s never a good performance–Herman wouldn’t know how to direct one–but the script never gives the opportunity for one. It’s a bunch of treading water exposition, over and over, with fisticuffs thrown in.

It’s excruciatingly bad.

CREDITS

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).


RELATED

The Amazing Exploits of the Clutching Hand (1936, Albert Herman), Chapter 9: Evil Eyes

Evil Eyes, despite all evidence to the contrary, actually seems like it might be doing something new with Clutching Hand. After an amazing cliffhanger resolution where instead of assaulting Ruth Mix, the clutching hand of the unseen Clutching Hand takes a paper she’s reading. She’s terrified, but no one’s too concerned about it. I mean, Rex Lease goes chasing after who he thinks is the culprit but he’s wrong. But no one is worried about how the house apparently has secret passageways and so on.

Lease catches Gaston Glass, who’s Mix’s paramour. Only Glass needs Mix to get back this knife he owns because Jack Mulhall’s got it. Mulhall wants Mix to come get the knife so he sets a trap for her. More a rouse. A rouse of a trap. Only she doesn’t fall for it, becaues Mulhall’s a terrible master detective.

So he has to go to Glass’s house in makeup, which is an incredibly silly scene. It does seem, for a moment, Glass might be something new in Clutching Hand. A new suspect. A new location. Maybe even new locations–Glass’s house is really exciting after all the same locations over and over.

But then they go right back to the wharf bar. And Glass is apparently out of the serial, at least in any important capacity. He’s a red herring to get to another red herring. Though Mix is the red herring to get to Glass. Clutching Hand is convoluted as all heck but only because it’s so padded. And dumb. It’s really dumb.

It’s kind of hard not to watch the serial like Mulhall is a bad guy. He’s such a doofus, he’s so inept, how can he be the hero. Not even the other characters can be dumb enough to be impressed with the master detective bit. He’s terrible at it.

But there are only six more to go. It is actually going to end. The Clutching Hand is going to end; a not inappropriate mantra for watching it.

CREDITS

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).


RELATED