The Black Hand

Overview

Gene Kelly as an Italian-American attorney? Once you get past this, the rest of Black Hand ought to go down easy. This expose of organized crime is set in New York's "Little Italy" the late 19th century. The various Italian immigrant merchants find themselves at the mercy of the Black Hand, a group which extorts money upon threat of death. Seeking vengeance for the mob-dictated murder of his father, Kelly tries to gather evidence against the Black Hand. He is frustrated in his efforts until he teams with ...
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Overview

Gene Kelly as an Italian-American attorney? Once you get past this, the rest of Black Hand ought to go down easy. This expose of organized crime is set in New York's "Little Italy" the late 19th century. The various Italian immigrant merchants find themselves at the mercy of the Black Hand, a group which extorts money upon threat of death. Seeking vengeance for the mob-dictated murder of his father, Kelly tries to gather evidence against the Black Hand. He is frustrated in his efforts until he teams with Italian/American police inspector J. Carroll Naish. Though Naish is eventually murdered while assembling evidence, he is able to mail his findings to Kelly, who, after beating crime boss Marc Lawrence to a bloody pulp, delivers the guilty parties to the authorities. In the real-life incidents upon which this film is based, it was the Mafia, not the Black Hand, who functioned as the villain. Even in 1950, however, Hollywood had to tread gingerly whenever dealing with big-time crime; it was easier and safer to go after a "dead" criminal organization than a "live" one.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Inspired by actual events from the turn of the century but not beholden to the details, The Black Hand is a surprisingly good gangster film. One says "surprisingly" because the idea of the very Irish Gene Kelly and J. Carrol Naish playing Italian-Americans causes one to assume that Black is simply not going to make the grade. But the leads turn in excellent performances that bolster the film substantially. Granted, Kelly in particular doesn't convey the proper ethnic flavor, but his acting is so good that it doesn't really matter. Divorced from his typical song-and-dance setting, Kelly demonstrates that he has significant dramatic talent and could handle a greater range of parts than he was usually allowed. Naish is also aces, playing the seasoned pro detective like the seasoned pro actor he is. And Teresa Celli is also quite good, so much so that one wonders why her career was so short. Richard Thorpe directs with maximum tension and atmosphere, and Luther Davis' screenplay, while somewhat familiar, pushes all the right buttons. All in all, a taut and gripping thriller that deserves to be better known.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/17/2012
  • UPC: 883316586860
  • Original Release: 1950
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Region Code: 0
  • Presentation: Pan & Scan
  • Time: 1:32:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 40,499

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Gene Kelly Johnny Columbo
J. Carrol Naish Louis Lorelli
Teresa Celli Isabella Gomboli
Marc Lawrence Caesar Xavier Serpi
Frank Puglia Carlo Sabballera
Barry Kelley Capt. Thompson
Mario Siletti Benny Danetta
Carl Milletaire George Allani
Peter Brocco Roberto Columbo
Eleonora Mendelssohn Maria Columbo
Grazia Narciso Mrs. Danetta
Maurice Samuels Moriani
Burk Symon Judge
Bert Freed Prosecutor
Mimi Aguglia Mrs. Sabballera
Carlo Tricoli Pietro Riago
Technical Credits
Richard Thorpe Director
Alberto Colombo Score Composer
Luther Davis Screenwriter
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Gabriel Scognamillo Art Director
Leo Townsend Original Story
Paul Vogel Cinematographer
Irvine Warburton Editor
William H. Wright Producer
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