It. tit.: Il mistero delle cinque dita; Sog.: fromt he sotry of William Fryer Harvey; Scen.: Curt Siodmak; Dial.: Jack Daniels; F.: Wesley Anderson; Mo.: Frank Magee; Scgf.: Stanley Fleischer; Mu.: Max Steiner; Int.: Robert Alda (Bruce Conrad), Andrea King (Julie Holden), Peter Lorre (Hilary Cummins), Victor Francen (Francis Ingram), J. Carrol Naish (Ovidio Castanio), Charles Dingle (Raymond Arlington), John Alvin (Donald Arlington), David Hoffman (Duprex), Barbara Brown (Miss Miller), Patricia White (Clara), William Edmunds (Antonio), Belle Mitchell (Giovanna), Ray Walker (Mr. Miller), Pedro de Cordoba (Horatio); Prod.: William Jacobs per Warner Bros; Pri. pro.: 25 dicembre 1946. 35mm. D.: 90’. Bn.
Florey decided that the only way he could possibly make something out of the story was to “shoot it as seen through the eyes of Hilary Cummins” [Peter Lorre] He designed and photographed the sets in an expressionistic style and edited the film accordingly, “as I conceived my adaptation of Frankenstein, and wrote and directed Murders in the Rue Morgue at Universal in 1931”. Florey discussed the idea with Lorre. Interested in his conception, he accompanied Florey to the producer’s office. William Jacobs dismissed the project as “commercially unthinkable”. “A glimpse of what The Beast with Five Fingers might have been”, said the director “remains in the sequence in which Hilary, alone in the library, sees, then struggles with, the cut-off hand. He is terrified as the hand comes at him again and again until it becomes apparent that there is a bizarre connection between the hand and the crazed astrologer who nails the hand to his desk – it escapes and Hilary chases it. This sequence and a seried of quick flashes cutting to inserts of objects and shadows in the room and flashing back to distorted angles of Hilary’s face and close shots of the severed hand crawling – weird sound effects and strange music being recorded later – stident sound when a string is snapped from a mandolin hanging on the wall – each motion of the hand synchronized with a jarring shrill sound – the picture would have been a succes if entirely directed as I visualized”.
Stephen Youngkin, The Lost One. A Life of Peter Lorre, The University Press of Kentucky, 2005