Awkward Hands / Manos torpes (Rafael Romero Marchent, 1970)

(Romaine Fielding) #1

I watched this film this past weekend.

I love finding unexpected gems among the films I have yet to see in the Spaghetti universe. There is so much that is unusual and/or unique about this one. The acting is first rate. There is a lot of character development (not altogether common in a Spaghetti). The cast is amazing: Peter Lee Lawrence, Alberto de Mendoza, Pilar Velázquez, Antonio Casas, and (in smaller roles) Luis Induni, Aldo Sambrell, Frank Brana, Antonio Molino Rojo, & Saturno Cerra (and others!). PLL is just great in this. I was not a big fan of his prior to viewing this but he won me over here “hands” down. Alberto de Mendoza plays a role much different than those he played in, for instance, A Bullet For Sandoval or The Forgotten Pistolero. He is mostly silent and utterly menacing. Pilar is beautiful and innocent but follows a trajectory that takes her to some dark, unhappy places. Without giving away too much of the plot I want to describe a weird scene, effectively edited. Pilar’s father (and her mother!) basically pimp her out to the son of a rival rancher who controls the access to the water they need for their own ranch. Pilar goes along but with genuinely moving sadness and fear. The rival’s son has cut off water to the ranch of Pilar’s father and his price for restoring the flow is Pilar’s chastity. When Pilar returns home after giving it up, her parents rejoice at the restoration of the waterflow by pumping the water from a hand pump in a gushing and ejaculatory manner. This is intercut with Pilar’s stricken face. The implied rape is made all the more horrific by her parent’s complictness in it. But don’t worry Spaghetti fans, her degradation is far from complete. It does get worse. This movie also has a plague-ridden quasi ghost town which allows for a particularly inventive form of murder. In one of the truly weirdest set of sequences I have seen in my Spaghetti viewing, PLL learns to become a gunfighter from an old Chinese master who lives as a recluse in the woods. Unbelievable. Lastly, the film has an ending that I won’t describe but that adds a little extra twist of the knife. A dark and gritty Spaghetti. Highly recommended. 8)

(Phil H) #2

Watched this one last night as a result of RF’s recommendation and it is indeed an interesting film.

To begin with I thought it was going to be a bit of a dud. In fact after the first 20 minutes I was even contemplating switching it off. (A thing I very rarely do. Once I start a film I like to see it through) Anyhow, I stuck with it and it got better and better and darker and darker. RF’s decscription above tells you all you need to know really but I will add that it is one of the strangest mixtures I’ve ever seen in a spaghetti western. Genuinely tragic storyline surrounding Dorothy (Pilar Velazquez), bizarre middle section with the Chinese gun master plus an interesting and quite sudden twist at the end.
The problem with the film is its unevenness. Good acting, interesting storyline and pure whackiness is offset by a poor score, cheesy opening scenes and unexplained shift of character in the lead man.
I’m not sure what I think of it really except to say I’m glad I watched it and will probably have to give it another viewing before deciding whether its strengths outweigh its weaknesses.

Anyone else seen this?

(Stanton) #3

Ha ha, my resume was the same, still not sure what to think about it after one viewing.

There was potential, but it’s the unevenness which stayed in my mind. I also have to give Manos Torpes a 2nd try before I possibly can say something more substantial.

(Reverend Danite) #4

I like this one and that review by Brother Romaine has brought back the need to resee this. Tomorrow hopefully and I’ll give my twopenneth. I think this is one of Chris Casey’s faves?


I enjoyed this one and one of the better PLL films I have seen so far.

The training segment is a bit cheesy, and tend to think of Rocky during scenes like this in films.
Negative elements always appeal to me in films, and this does not fail in this area for me.

(autephex) #6

The plague town was awesome, as was the bandit left tied up. The Chinese gunmaster was also a great quirk.

The cheesy opening scenes were a drawback. Mainly the scene with that comedic song playing during the horse riding.

The character shift did not bother me much. It was a pretty rapid change, basically instant, but I thought it made for a nice contrast and keeps the story from lulling. Its almost like rapid fire entertainment once we get to this point. And by that time, I was beginning to get a bit annoyed with PLL’s character.

I thought some of the showdown & action scenes could of been done a bit better… this is one of the biggest areas I judge a western on, how good the draws are done.

For me, Manos Torpes was highly enjoyable, well made, well acted and dark enough to be on my better side.

(Bluntwolf) #7

That’s what I thought after watching the movie. The first thirty minutes or so were kind of tedious but then it got better and darker with every minute (as mentioned above). The poor score really put me off, it just doesn’t fit the movie’s mood or atmosphere and even ruined some scenes IMO !

(Silver) #8

Same here…once PLL was left in the desert the film really picked up, even if the scenes with the old Chinese guy were really cheesy. But that music was pretty awful…

(Silvanito) #9

This is definitely one of the better SWs I’ve seen recently

Many weird and dark elements, even if some stuff could have been better

The English language letterbox vhs is ok, but it deserves a proper DVD release that’s for sure!

(cm215) #10

I’m not sure I why I purchased this one, but there was a reason. Got it weeks ago but just watched this one last night… The beginning was very boring indeed and I was sure wondering why I wanted it… Very stupid and boring. But then once PLL character was thrown off on his own, it picked up. I think the best part was definitely the plague ghost town. It was awesome how they were kind of like zombies.

(chuck connors brother) #11

I guess this one is good, agreed that it does get better after the first 20 minutes, but not as good as I was hoping. I liked the idea of the guy tied to the dead body, that was the highlight for me.

(Bad Lieutenant) #12

Nice one. Agree with basically everything already said. The first 20 minutes or so were cheesy, but necessary I guess for the rest of the story. The Latimore character is pretty cool. The scenes in the plague ridden town are great spaghetti moments. Especially the guy being tied up to a plague ridden corpse. The Chinese master was a nice touch as well.
What sets this apart from other spaghettis is the unusual structure and the fact that the subplots actually serve some purpose.

(Reverend Danite) #13

I don’t know if I rewatched this in June 2008 (as mentioned above), but it had been long enough for a seive-head like myself to have forgotten all but the basic plot.
Recently I complained about being somewhat let down by PLL’s romp in Revenge of the Resurrected - it being too lightweight an experience and falling short of its potential. The lovestuff in that offering is far too wimpy, :stuck_out_tongue: prissy-pants Janet doesn’t get ‘torn’ and in no way could it be described as “Gothic” (as Wild East would have us believe).
Well - Clumsy Hands is everything that the other film isn’t. Pilar Velazquez is superb as the very ‘torn’ Dorothy, and PLL as her true love - in this dark and fated tale of how two good people are transformed by circumstance into the opposites of the people they had planned to be.
Everything (except some of the inappropriate music), that could have been a negative in this - ends up as a quirky positive.
… And this has some legitimate claim to gothicness to boot - I’m sure a zombie plague town goes someway towards qualifying it :o
I’m with Brother Romaine on this. This is another “gem” and alternative top20 at least for me (next time).
Up there in the gritty pile, and highly recommended.

(Phil H) #14

Looks like I mentioned back in 2008 that I would re visit this soon and, of course, I haven’t got there yet either. The problems of having a never ending ‘to watch’ pile I’m afraid. Think I might try and remedy that soon.

(Reverend Danite) #15

As I’ve just mentioned on his own thread - your man Lorenzo’s in it and I do believe he survives? :o Worth putting it higher up the pile on that score alone? :wink:

(Silvanito) #16

I re-watched this one for the second time 2 or 3 months ago

To me it wasn’t quite as good as the first time, but still an above average sw

I found the vhs print to be relatively poor now that we’ve been spoilt with so many flawless sw DVDs

It needs a proper release for sure

(ENNIOO) #17

Was your vhs print in widescreen ?

(Silvanito) #18

Letterboxed at least

No subs and acceptable picture quality

Are there more versions floating around?

(ENNIOO) #19

Cheers. Sounds like the same version of mine. Not sure re other versions…was just being curious myself :slight_smile: .

(Stanton) #20

Mine is in 1,66:1, but only after changing the aspect ratio on the DVD player, cause it is wrongly coded.

1,66:1 happens to be the correct aspect ratio.