The Amazing Exploits of the Clutching Hand
Cast & Crew
Dr. Paul Gironda invents a formula for synthetic gold and presents his innovation at a meeting of the International Research Foundation, without actually revealing the formula. Soon he is kidnapped by a mysterious man who calls himself "The Clutching Hand." Part of the written gold formula was left behind, however, and the Clutching Hand recruits several henchmen to help him find it. Gironda's daughter Verna is engaged to reporter Walter Jameson, who immediately hires famed detective Craig Kennedy to rescue Gironda. The Clutching Hand is an old arch-enemy of the detective, who is aided by Department of Justice agent Gordon Gaunt, who has been sent from Washington, D.C. to investigate the gold formula. Several attempts are made on Kennedy's life, but each time he escapes unscathed. Meanwhile, Gironda's wife Verna is being harassed by an ex-convict and extortionist named Joe Mitchell. Then Gironda's secretary, Shirley McMillan, who was taking Gironda's dictation of the formula when he was abducted, is herself kidnapped. Verna, meanwhile, has been taking lessons in the "Seven Steps to Perfection" from gurus Hamik and Ali in a sacred temple hidden in the Gironda estate. The Clutching Hand continues to communicate to his henchmen via a television broadcast in which Gironda is seen seated in a chair, immobile, and the Clutching Hand's voice is heard issuing a threat that anyone who defies him will end up as his prisoner. Next the Clutching Hand orders Shirley to instruct Verna to bring certain papers to the temple and place them on the altar. Verna obliges and finds the body of Montgomery, one of the directors of the Research Foundation. Kennedy then finds Shirley in the temple, where they are trapped by poison gas until Jameson rescues them. Later Kennedy and Gironda's lawyer, White, are attacked by the Clutching Hand and his henchmen, who steal valuable papers and leave a warning note pinned by an antique dagger. The dagger temporarily casts suspicion on board member Louis Bouchard, who collects antiques. Later Bouchard's valet, Carlos, admits he gave the dagger to Mitchell to settle a gambling debt. In an attempt to catch Mitchell, Kennedy arranges for him to meet Carlos, who is caught in the crossfire and dies, while Mitchell escapes. Kennedy is saved by his bullet-proof vest. Meanwhile, Ali, who is really a thief named Gallagher, and Hamik, who is really an ex-convict named Blackie Humphrey, plot to steal Verna's jewels during a ceremony in the temple. They are foiled by two of the Clutching Hand's henchmen, however, one of whom was an old cellmate of Humphrey. All are caught, however, when Kennedy and his assistant, Sullivan, arrive on the scene and arrest them. Kennedy then receives a tip that the Nellie D is sailing with an aged invalid as cargo, and believing the invalid is Gironda, Kennedy disguises himself as a seaman and boards the ship. Not recognizing Kennedy, Mitchell, who is also on board, tells him that he is involved in a big racket with Gironda. Later, however, Mitchell is killed by Hobart, who owns the waterfront hotel that Kennedy believes is the Clutching Hand's headquarters. When visited by Gaunt, Kennedy explains that Mitchell killed Montgomery in the temple, believing that he was spying on him and Verna, who was once Mitchell's wife. He was blackmailing her by threatening to expose her as the ex-wife of a felon. Meanwhile, the crew of the Nellie D stages a mutiny, and when Kennedy arrives on board, he finds Sullivan and police captain Hansen tied up. Kennedy then finds Gironda on the ship. He is in a trance and is suffering from amnesia. While in Jameson's custody, Gironda is taken again, this time to Hobart's apartment. Hobart is then throttled by the Clutching Hand, and Gironda disappears. Thinking that Denton, a board member and Hobart's accomplice, has double-crossed him, Hobart goes to Denton's apartment and shoots him as Kennedy enters. Although Hobart tries to frame Denton for Mitchell's murder, Kennedy follows him to Gironda's laboratory, where he hopes to get the formula book from Nicky, one of Gironda's colleagues. There Kennedy arrests both men, then calls a meeting of the board members at the Gironda estate. While Shirley types the gold formula, she is attacked by Gironda, who is finally revealed as the Clutching Hand. In a frenzied rage, Gironda runs from the house screaming that the gold formula is his alone, then kills himself by electric shock. It is then revealed that the Girondas were really Verna's guardians, and that Gironda had misappropriated large sums from Verna's trust, which he lost in the stock market. To recoup his losses, Gironda made up a gold formula with the intention of selling vast amounts of stock, making a fortune and absconding with the profits. He then created his own villain, the Clutching Hand, to remove suspicion from himself.
Joseph W. Girard
Gordon S. Griffith
International Film Corp., Ltd.
George M. Merrick
George M. Merrick
This film is a composite of the fifteen-chapter serial The Clutching Hand, which was advertised as a "Craig Kennedy Thriller." The fifteen installments were two reels each. Only the serial version was available for viewing, and the above plot summarizes the serial, not the feature version, which May have differed considerably. It is possible that not all of the above cast members appeared in the feature version. In addition to this film, producers Louis Weiss and Robert Mintz made two more serials before their company was dissolved: Custer's Last Stand (see below) and The Black Coin, which was only released as a serial. Although a modern source lists the name of Louis Bouchard's valet as "Felix," he is called "Carlos" in the film. According to a modern source, silent and early "talkies" stars appearing in this film include Milburn Morante (Marty), Snub Pollard (Snub), Henry Hall (Warden), William Desmond (Bartender), Vera Steadman (Secretary) and Bull Montana (Sailor). Other modern cast credits include Reed Howes (Sullivan), Dick Alexander (Olaf), John Elliot (Mr. White), Olin Francis (Guard), Robert Russell (Trusty), Artemus Nigolian (Maid), Ethel Grove (Margaret), Gordon S. Griffith (Hamik), Roger Williams (Ali), George Morrell (Jenkins), Art Howard, Eugene Burr, Bert Howard, Gil Patrick and Willard Kent (Board of Directors members), Bob Kortman and Roy Cardona (Henchmen), Slim Whittaker, Tom London, Art Felix and George Allen (Sailors), John Cowell and John Ince (Policemen). Charles Locher changed his name to Lloyd Crane in 1936, and then to Jon Hall in 1937, under which name he became a star. An earlier film based on Arthur B. Reeve's novel was the silent film Unmasked, made in 1929 by Weiss Brothers Artclass Pictures, directed by Edgar Lewis and starring Robert Warwick and Milton Krims (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.5980). The Craig Kennedy detective stories were also the basis of the 1916 Pearl White serial The Exploits of Elaine.