Tonight on MeTV- we bring back a movie whose star is a real handful-in what was the Warner Bros. Studios only dip into the horror genre in the 1940s! The always creepy and sinister Peter Lorre faces situations you can count on one hand- mystery, the supernatural, murder, betrayal, and- the “Beast with Five Fingers”!
This 1946 chiller brings us to the Italian manor where the brilliant and eccentric pianist Francis Ingram dwells in isolation. Though he has suffered a stroke that has paralyzed half his body, he can still play the piano masterfully, with special musical arrangements designed to be played by only one hand. Young Bruce Conrad, who also makes money through the dubious selling of phony antiques to tourists, arranges these pieces, and is one of the few visitors Ingram allows.
The pianist, confined to a wheelchair, is cared for by his lovely nurse Julie, whom he has become emotionally attached to, and somewhat obsessed with- though, unbeknownst to him, Julie is in love with his arranger, Conrad. The other occupant of the manor is Ingram’s personal secretary Hilary, whose own obsession is astrology- which he feeds by using Ingram’s vast personal library to research what he feels he is on the track of discovering-ancient lost secrets of incredible power. When Hilary finds out that Ingram has changed his will, leaving everything to Julie, he worries that this will remove him from the library and his research. In an attempt to avoid such a situation, he reveals the truth about who Julie actually cares for to his boss, driving Ingram into a rage, and he grabs Hilary by the throat to strangle him- only to be stopped in the nick of time when Julie enters the room!
Soon, on a suitably dark and stormy night- Ingram meets his demise under strange circumstances. Regardless, the local police commissario dismisses it as-an accident. Ingram’s passing draws a visit from a relative who, along with his son, questions the legality of the new will that cuts them out of any inheritance. Secretly, Ingram’s sneaky attorney reveals to them that he can overturn the new will- in exchange for part of the inheritance, of course!
The lawyer ends up getting something quite different and far more unpleasant than an inheritance- and the search is on to find Ingram’s original will, which must be hidden somewhere in the house. That night, things get more unnerving, when the household hears the dead Ingram’s piano playing! Hilary is shocked to see a disembodied hand – and we learn where it seems to have come from- while the search goes on for the original will, as Hilary tries to convince everyone that he has indeed encountered this five-fingered horror! Will the deadly digits be discovered-or will they go on a strangling spree?
As always, we ask our comment posters to avoid any spoilers that might ruin the enjoyment of the film for those who have not seen it before. Peter Lorre, in his final film role for this studio, performs brilliantly as Hilary- joined by supporting cast members like Robert Alda (yes, Alan’s dad) and the versatile J. Carrol Naish. We’ll talk about them and other actors appearing in the film, put the finer on what may be the hand’s other show biz work, and bring you a song. Due to the length of the movie, we will again minimize the Sven content in order to bring you more of the film. As we have stated, our show remains at two hours in length.
“Beast with Five Fingers” will grab you tonight at 8 pm eastern/pacific, 7 central. Not sure where to find it in your area? Just check your local listings or at www.metv.com . Live-tweeting during the show on Twitter has continued to have our program trending among the most posted about topics in the nation, and MeTV invites you to join in, using the hashtag #svengoolie. Tonight, watch right after our show, when Toonie the Tuna from “Tune in With Me” emulates yours truly as the hookable horror host “Sventoonie”! You might just see me appearing with him as well! Saturday morning means an encore of the restored print of “The Ghoul” on our main local station, CW26, at 11. We are very happy that it was a huge success in its airing last week on MeTV.
I have been getting a look at a new merchandise item coming to our store soon- and think you will like it as much as I do! Watch for it very soon!
Tonight- let your fingers do the walking on your TV remote for what is, hands down, one of the eeriest movies in Peter Lorre’s resume! It gets two thumbs up…oh-sorry- make that- one!