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The Whip Hand

The Whip Hand(1951)

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At the Kremlin in Moscow, Russian military men devise a scheme to cripple the United States, selecting Winnoga, Wisconsin, as their base of operations. Sometime later, at Lake Winnoga, a rainstorm interrupts Matt Corbin's fishing trip, and as he is scrambling for cover, he slips and hits his head on a rock. The injured Matt drives to the nearest residence, a sprawling, secluded lodge, but the armed guard at the entrance refuses to help. Matt finally reaches Winnoga, where gas station attendant Nate Garr directs him to the home of town physician Dr. Edward Keller. There, Matt is greeted by Keller's sister Janet, who expresses surprise when Matt mentions that he was at the lodge. While tending to Matt's head wound, Keller explains that the lodge's owner, Peterson, is an eccentric who loathes outsiders. Keller then escorts Matt to the Winnoga Inn, where the owner, Steve Loomis, states that the lake trout were destroyed by a virus five years before, turning Winnoga into a ghost town. Intrigued, Matt reveals that he writes for American View magazine and declares that Winnoga's trials might make a good article. Later, after he has settled into his room, Matt visits elderly Luther Adams at his general store and asks him about Winnoga. Luther comments that after the fish died, the town was bought out by "newcomers," including Loomis, but that he refused to sell. Before Luther can say any more, Garr appears and stares menacingly at him. Matt then notices Janet heading for the movie theater and joins her. Janet reacts to Matt with a mixture of pleasure and fear and, before saying goodnight, urges him to leave Winnoga. The next morning, Matt upsets Loomis and Chick, his helper, when he declares that he is staying in Winnoga to write the article. Loomis orders Chick to follow Matt as he explores the town, but Matt loses Chick as he sneaks onto the lodge property with his camera. Observing what appears to be a doctor and some patients, Matt snaps a few shots of the lodge's exterior before guards descend and order him away. Later, Matt visits Janet and demands to know what is going on. She says little, but warns him that he will not be able to call or wire his editor, as all communications are controlled by Loomis' wife Molly. During their conversation, Matt notices some books on bacteriology on Keller's shelf and discovers they were written by Dr. Wilhelm Bucholtz. Unable to persuade Janet to go with him to the next town, Matt prepares to leave on his own, but finds his car will not start. Chick then smugly shows Matt his now-smashed camera, which Matt had hidden near the lodge. Trapped, Matt asks Luther to place an order with his supplier and then slip the delivery man a message for Matt's editor. The ploy works, but when the supplier reads Matt's cryptic message, he calls Luther to confirm its contents. Molly and Loomis eavesdrop on the conversation, and that night, Keller is sent to kill Luther with an overdose of a heart drug. After Matt learns of Luther's death, Loomis takes him to meet Peterson at the inn. Playing the part of the rich eccentric, Peterson offers to give Matt a tour of the lodge the next day. Once Matt retires to his room, however, Peterson orders Keller to kill Janet, who he suspects is talking too much. At the magazine office, meanwhile, Matt's editor, Bradford, receives his message and deduces that Matt has located Bucholtz, a sought-after Nazi war criminal. Back in Winnoga, Matt slips away from the inn and finds Janet. After Janet reveals that Keller has asked her to bring the heart medicine to the inn, Matt convinces her that her life is in danger. Together, they sneak a canoe onto the lake, and while Janet waits in the boat, Matt breaks into the lodge. There, Bucholtz is discussing his plan to poison the water supply of Chicago using killer bacteria he has developed, and proudly shows a colleague his human "guinea pigs." In town, meanwhile, Janet's and Matt's absence is discovered and a manhunt ensues. Matt returns safely to the canoe, then to avoid capture, he and Janet hide beneath a rock ledge, half-submerged in the lake. After Matt strangles Chick, who is perched on top of the ledge, he and Janet flee into the woods, eventually coming to a cabin owned by Mabel Turner. Mabel offers to drive them to the sheriff, but actually delivers them to Loomis and the others. Now prisoners, Janet and Matt are brought to the lodge, where Bucholtz informs them of his deadly scheme. Just as Janet fully understands her brother's complicity in the Communists' plot, Peterson orders Keller to give her the fatal injection. Keller shoots Peterson instead, but is himself shot. At that moment, government agents sent by Bradford burst into the lodge and confront Bucholtz. Bucholtz, however, is in a room protected by bullet-proof glass and threatens to blow up the entire lodge with a device he is holding. Unknown to Bucholtz, Keller has given Matt the key to the room, and Matt sneaks up and disarms the scientist. Later, Matt's article appears in American View , along with a photograph of him embracing a smiling Janet.