Pulp Friday: The Hands of Orlac

The Hands of Orlac“Had a brilliant skin graft left him with a murderer’s hands? A tense and eerie film starring Mel Ferrer.”

French writer Maurice Renard’s 1920 novel The Hands of Orlac concerned a concert pianist called Paul Orlac who loses his hands in a terrible accident and is given new ones in a transplant. Unbeknownst to him, the donor was a recently deceased murderer. Not only is Orlac unable to play piano with his new hands, but he slowly starts to assume the deceased murderer’s predisposition for killing.

The Hands of Orlac was filmed as a movie three times. A silent movie, The Hands of Orlac, was made in 1924 by Austrian director Robert Weine. A US version appeared in 1935 as Mad Love. A British/French production starring Christopher Lee and Mel Ferrer was made in 1960.

Today’s Pulp Friday offering is the 1962 local Horwitz edition of the Four Square Books paperback tie in to the British/French movie.

The name of the author, which you might not be able to discern from the cover scan, was Robert Bateman. Bateman was a UK writer who worked in radio and TV. He also wrote a number of novels, including this one.

And please note, I will be giving an illustrated talk on Australian pulp fiction from the fifties, sixties and seventies as part of the upcoming Melbourne Writers Festival. The talk will take place at 4pm on August 30, at the NGV. Tickets are available at the Melbourne Writers Festival website here.

The Hands of Orlac back


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