The Hand


by Tuna

This film stars Michael Caine as a successful cartoonist who lives in Vermont with his wife and daughter. He and his wife are not getting along well, and she wants to move to New York with their daughter and have him visit on weekends. He is not impressed with the idea.

The highlight of the film is a brilliant scene in which the husband and wife are arguing in their car, stuck behind a slow truck on a curving road with an obnoxious tailgater behind them. She pulls out to pass, only to see an oncoming car. He motions for the car behind them to pull back, but is ignored, and then his drawing hand is caught between the car and the truck, and is severed.

The search for the hand comes up mysteriously empty, even though the ring is found. Caine ends up taking a teaching job and a new girlfriend in California. He becomes aware of periods of blackout, and the severed hand seems to be following him and strangling anyone who makes him angry. His wife and daughter arrive for Christmas as many things come to a head.

This film was an early effort from director Oliver Stone. For one decade (1986-1995), Stone was one of filmdom's most controversial and successful auteurs, churning out a steady stream of films which were both engaging and provocative, often technically impressive, almost always with a strong political slant. People may have loved or hated his films, but they always talked about them. During that era, Stone won two "Best Director" Oscars for Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July, and was nominated a third time for JFK. (Nixon also earned him a screenwriting nomination.)

As a director, 1986-1995

His efforts after that point seem to be missing the passions and obsessions that made him so effective at his peak, despite the fact that some of his more recent films have also been his most technically accomplished.

Director, Post-1995


His efforts before his career peak include some screenwriting successes, including his first Oscar for the screenplay of Midnight Express.

Screenwriter, Pre-1986

But his early directorial efforts were simply routine genre films, not completely without merit, but clearly the work of a young man who had not yet found his mature voice, and not really identifiable as characteristic "Oliver Stone films," as we currently understand that term.

Director, Pre-1986

Those first two films chronologically are still Stone's lowest-rated at IMDb. The Hand edges out the earlier effort as the lowest-rated of Stone's career. It is a not but, but just a standard psychological thriller. I loved the scene where the hand was lost, but got little out of the rest of the film.


* widescreen anamorphic

* no major features. The normally garrulous Mr. Stone has not recorded any commentary for this one.






17 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)

The available reviews are only 17% positive, per Rotten Tomatoes, but that's based on a tiny base, one positive review out of six available, and the one positive review was from Vincent Canby, the distinguished critic of The New York Times, who seems to have been prescient in recognizing Stone's directorial talents as early as 1981.




4.8 IMDB summary (of 10)









  • Annie McEnroe, as Caine's local California girlfriend, shows breasts.





Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a: