The Whip Hand

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The Whip Hand
original US half-sheet film poster
Directed byWilliam Cameron Menzies
Stuart Gilmore (fill-in)[1]
Produced byLewis Rachmil
Written byGeorge Bricker
Frank L. Moss
Curt Siodmak (uncredited)[1]
Story byRoy Hamilton
StarringCarla Balenda
Elliott Reid
Music byPaul Sawtell
CinematographyNicholas Musuraca
Edited byRobert Golden
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • October 24, 1951 (1951-10-24) (US)[1]
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Whip Hand is a 1951 American film directed by William Cameron Menzies and starring Carla Balenda and Elliott Reid.[3]


Journalist Matt Corbin (Elliott Reid) is traveling through Wisconsin on a fishing trip and comes across a nearly deserted town where the few inhabitants left are secretive and hostile. A shifty lodge owner named Steve Loomis (Raymond Burr) warns Matt away, claiming all the fish died off mysteriously years ago. The story just makes Matt more curious, and his investigations soon uncover a Kremlin plot to poison the American water supply. Now he just needs to get back to the city alive.



In July 1949, RKO purchased the screen story written by Roy Hamilton. The film was originally set in New England, and was titled The Man He Found; the term "the whip hand" comes from horse racing, and is a metaphor for having the advantage or upper hand.[1] In the original story the villains were escaped German Nazis involved in a plot to hide Adolf Hitler, portrayed by Bobby Watson. When Howard Hughes viewed the completed film in November 1950, he announced that Nazis were no longer villains, Communists were, and ordered portions of the film reshot.[4][1] Wheeler W. Dixon writes that "The Whip Hand compels the viewer's attention through the sheer visual frenzy of its violent, aggressive camera work, coupled with its nightmarish, forced-perspective sets, which seems to overpower both the view and the film's protagonists."[5]

Location shooting took place in Big Bear Lake as well as at RKO's ranch in Encino.


The film lost an estimated $225,000.[2][1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f The Whip Hand at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. ^ a b Jewell, Richard and Marton, Vernon (1982) The RKO Story. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House. p.260
  3. ^ "The Whip Hand (1951) - William Cameron Menzies - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  4. ^ Weaver, Tom {July 30, 2005) "Elliot Reid Interview" in Earth Vs. The Sci-Fi Filmmakers: 20 Interviews McFarland, p.325
  5. ^ Film Noir and the Cinema of Paranoia, by Wheeler W. Dixon pg. 83

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