“Dead hands that live … and love … and kill!” In one of his best roles, Peter Lorre (in his American film debut) portrays creepy, demented French surgeon “Dr. Gogol,” who becomes infatuated with actress “Yvonne” (Frances Drake) in this unfairly neglected horror film directed by Karl Freund and released by MGM. Gogol attends every single one of her performances and even keeps a wax likeness of Yvonne in his apartment. Not only is Yvonne repulsed at the very sight of Gogol but she’s already happily married to concert pianist “Stephen Orlac” (Colin Clive). However, the shit really hits the fan after Stephen’s hands are crushed in a freak train accident and Yvonne pleads with Gogol to operate on her husband. Gogol decides to graft the hands of “Rollo the Knife Thrower” (Edward Brophy), a recently guillotined murderer, onto Stephen’s wrists. Before you know it, Stephen is starting to throw knives around and entertain murderous impulses – playing right into the hands (no pun intended!) of Gogol. Wait until you see Gogol’s freaky, disturbing disguise – complete with metallic hands, dark glasses and steel neck brace! The solid cast includes Keye Luke as “Dr Wong,” Sarah Haden as “Marie,” Ted Healy as “Reagan” and Ian Wolfe as “Henry Orlac.” Cinematographer Gregg Toland (Citizen Kane) worked on the film (is it a coincidence that an aging Charles Foster Kane resembles Gogol?).
Useless Trivia: Mad Love is based on French author Maurice Renard’s 1920 novel Les Mains d’Orlac (The Hands of Orlac), which was first filmed in 1924 as an Austrian silent film called Orlacs Hande (directed by Robert Wiene and starring Conrad Veidt).