Kiss the Blood Off My Hands


1h 19m 1948

Brief Synopsis

Bill Saunders, disturbed ex-soldier, kills a man in a postwar London pub brawl. Fleeing, he hides out in the apartment of lonely nurse Jane Wharton. Later, despite misgivings about his violent nature, Jane becomes involved with Bill, who resolves to reform. She gets him a job driving a medical supplies truck. But racketeer Harry Carter, who witnessed the killing, wants to use Bill's talents for crime.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Unafraid
Release Date
Nov 1948
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Norma Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Los Angeles--Griffith Park, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Kiss the Blood Off My Hands by Gerald Butler (London, 1940).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

In London, Canadian war veteran Bill Saunders, whose two years in a German labor camp have left him prone to explosive fits of violence, accidentally kills a man in a pub. The crime is witnessed by black markeeter Harry Carter. Fleeing the police, Bill climbs through the open window of the apartment of medical assistant Jane Wharton. Jane promises not to report Bill's break-in if he allows her to go to work and leaves her apartment. Bill agrees and later in the street robs a man's wallet and buys new clothes, then waits for Jane outside the clinic. He follows her to a zoo and she grudgingly befriends him, agreeing to spend the afternoon with him at the racetrack. While betting on the races, Bill runs into Harry, who threatens blackmail. On the train returning to the city, Bill gets involved with a cardsharp and beats him up when the man refuses to continue playing. Bill and Jane jump the train and Jane is outraged at his violent behavior and leaves him. When a policeman questions him, Bill strikes him and is promptly arrested and sentenced to six months imprisonment and eighteen lashes for brutality. Upon his release, Bill runs into Harry, who suggests they become partners for a major heist, but Bill is evasive. Instead, he visits Jane, who had tried unsuccessfully to visit him in prison. She offers to get him a job as a supplies driver for the clinic and he gratefully accepts. Bill settles contentedly into his job, but Harry tracks him down and demands that he help him steal the clinic's penicillin to sell on the black market. Bill agrees on the condition that this is the only illegal job in which he will participate. On the night of the planned theft, Jane unexpectedly asks to ride along with Bill. When Bill tries to call off the heist, Harry refuses and Bill beats him up. He continues the normal delivery with Jane, taking the drugs to the homes of several sick children. The next night Bill searches for Harry, who goes to Jane's apartment to expose Bill. When Harry attempts to assault Jane, she stabs him with a pair of scissors, then flees to Bill's room. He returns to her apartment and discovers Harry still alive and takes him back to his own flat, where Harry dies. Panicked, Bill tries to arrange passage on the ship making the black market run, but the captain refuses to carry them unless Bill brings the penicillin. Bill returns to Jane and tells her Harry was not in her apartment and so must be alive, and convinces her to come away with him to America. She discovers the bloody scissors in his pocket, however, and determines to give herself up to the police. Bill tries to dissuade her, but eventually agrees their only chance at happiness is to face up to their actions.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Unafraid
Release Date
Nov 1948
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Norma Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Los Angeles--Griffith Park, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Kiss the Blood Off My Hands by Gerald Butler (London, 1940).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title for this film was The Unafraid. In 1948 Dell Publications released a new paperback edition of Gerald Butler's novel retitled The Unafraid. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, the film's title was to be changed from Kiss the Blood Off My Hands to the less graphic Blood on My Hands. A New York Times news item indicates that the PCA initially blocked the full title, but that decision was later overturned on appeal.
       The following written prologue appears in the onscreen credits: "The aftermath of war is rubble-the rubble of cities and men-They are the casualties of a pitiless destruction. The cities can be rebuilt, but the wounds of men, whether of the mind or the body, heal slowly. This is the story of one such man and the girl whose path he crossed."
       A news item from the Los Angeles Times indicates that Eagle-Lion Productions purchased an option on Butler's novel in 1946 as a starring vehilcle for Robert Donat. Kiss the Blood Off My Hands was the first production for Norma Productions, an independent company formed by producer and actor Harold Hecht and Burt Lancaster and named after Lancaster's wife. The film marked British actor Robert Newton's American film debut. According to a February 1948 Hollywood Reporter item, cinematographer Gregg Toland was originally hired as the director of photographer. Studio production notes indicate that some scenes were filmed on location at the Griffith Park Zoo in Los Angeles. During the film's production Joan Fontaine was absent for 12 days due to her pregnancy.
       Contemporary news items indicate that in March 1948 Charles K. Feldman Productions filed a million dollar suit against ten co-defendants, including Universal-International, Norma Productions, Inc., Gerald Butler, Richard Vernon, Burt Lancaster, Joan Fontaine, Eagle-Lion of New York, Phil Berg-Bert Allenberg, Inc., Curtil Brown, Ltd., Harold Hecht and Allan Collins, over ownership of the screen rights to Butler's novel. Daily Variety notes that in July 1948 the California Superior Court sustained the demurrer of Universal-International and the defendants. There is no indication that the Feldman Group took further action. Fontaine and Lancaster recreated their roles for the Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on February 21, 1949 under the title The Unafraid. Jay Novello, who had a small role in the film, was also in the broadcast.