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Sunday, 19 August 2012

Black Hand (1950) - Star of the month... Gene Kelly

'Black Hand' is a 1950 mafia meldorama directed by Richard Thorpe and starring Gene Kelly, J. Carrol Naish, Teresa Celli and Marc Lawrence.

Set in Little Italy during the late 19th century, 'Black Hand' is an expose of organised crime gang, the Black Hand, a group who extorts money upon threat of death during a time where a large number of Italians immigrated to puruse the American dream.

After Robert Columbo is murdered by the Black Hand, his widow takes their son Giovanni (Johnny) back to Italy.  Some time passes, and Johnny has grown up (played by Kelly). He returns to New York to seek "la vendetta" (vengeance) against the Black Hand. After a failed attempt, Johnny decides to become a lawyer and seek his revenge through the judicial system. In the process, Johnny reconnects with his childhood friend Isabella Gomboli (played by Celli) for a romantic subplot.

Watch a clip from the film:

Did you know...

  • The film was really based on events involving the Italian mafia - however MGM thought it would be a option to use the out dated crime gang 'The Black Hand'

Closing remarks

'Black Hand' is a nostalgic trip back to the Warner Bros. gangster films from the 1930s. Although MGM didn't make gangster films as good as Warner Bros., this film gets rather close.

The film gives us one of Gene Kelly's few non-singing/non-dancing dramatic roles.  Although I am usually a big fan of Gene Kelly, I don't think he was right for this role. I also would have preferred seeing a real Italian-American, such as Mario Lanza in the role of Johnny.

I like 'Black Hand' a lot. I think it's one of the better gangster films from 1950s, but sadly it is a rather forgotten film today. 

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