The Beast with Five Fingers is a 1946 mystery horror film directed by Robert Florey from a screenplay by Curt Siodmak, based on a short story written by W. F. Harvey and first published in 1919 in The New Decameron. The film stars Robert Alda, Victor Francen, Andrea King, and Peter Lorre. The film's score was composed by Max Steiner.
Locals in an Italian village believe evil has taken over the estate of a recently deceased pianist where several murders have taken place. The alleged killer: the pianist's severed hand.
Tropes in The Beast with Five Fingers:
- Bookcase Passage: There is a safe concealed behind a bookcase in the library.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: A minor example occurs at the end of the film. The Commissario makes a joke that must be directed at the audience because a) he is alone at the time, and b) the joke only works if you cannot see what is happening below the level of the camera.
- Evil Hand: The film revolves around a murderous hand that has detached itself from the corpse of a dead pianist and which attempts to kill the heirs to his will. Except the ending has some of the survivors suggest it was actually a plot by a greedy heir to kill off the others, only for that heir to end up killing himself after he went mad and began believing his own lie.
- Helping Hands: The film revolves around a murderous hand that has detached itself from the corpse of a dead pianist and which attempts to kill the heirs to his will. Except the ending has some of the survivors suggest it was actually a plot by a greedy heir to kill off the others, only for that heir to end up killing himself after he went mad and began believing his own lie.
- Impairment Shot: Just before Francis takes his fatal Staircase Tumble, his vision is shown blurring and swimming; meaning that he does not realise how close to the top of the stairs he is.
- Impaled Palm: Hilary nails the hand to a block of wood in the library.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Whether an actual disembodied hand is killing the heirs of its former owner or whether Hilary staged the whole thing only to believe his own lie is up to the viewer. The ending suggests the latter but it can go either way.
- Passed-Over Inheritance: Francis Ingram changes his will and disinherits his only living relatives—his brother-in-law and nephew—and leaves his entire estate to his nurse Julie.
- "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: At the end of the film, it appears that Hilary has staged the supernatural events to cover up his crimes, but his slipping sanity has led to him believing his own lies. But there is enough doubt for the viewer to decide for themselves.
- Staircase Tumble: Francis is killed when his wheelchair crashes down the stairs in his mansion.
- Through the Eyes of Madness: The disembodied hand is seen by, and attacks Hilary, who tries desperately to convince others of this. However, at the end of the film, it is revealed that Hilary was using to the severed hand to stage a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax, but his Sanity Slippage caused him to believe that the hand was real and haunting him.