The Beast With Five Fingers …

Andrea used to joke with me that all her character Julie did was scream like a nitwit through this entire film. I don’t believe that is the case, and she grew to appreciate her performance over time. It became her most popular film through the years, due largely to the creepiness factor and a stellar performance by screen villain Peter Lorre. The special effects were pretty spectacular, too, especially for 1946! It’s a bit of clever, trick photography, involving a split screen in the overhead shots. The matted image splits right at the front edge of the piano, hiding the pianist’s arm (in a black shirt) as his hand, with a fake disembodied wrist attached to the top of it, glides over the keys and plays the music.

I also discovered this second gem of a video on YouTube: a performance by Anatol Ugorski of the Bach Chaconne as it was transcribed for piano, by Brahms, for the left hand. Bach had originally written it for solo violin.

This music was beautifully arranged to great effect by composer Max Steiner for Warner Bros.’ “The Beast With Five Fingers.”

You have to turn the volume WAY up to hear it, but it’s worth the trouble. Enjoy!

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